Quick disclaimer: this is a post about what works for me, a bit about my methodology of writing. This stuff works for me and your mileage may vary and all of that.
So, working full time, self publishing, editing, and managing my private life all compete with my time for writing. To top it off, I have a number of hobbies such as playing role-playing games, tabletop strategy games, skiing, hiking and lots of other outdoors stuff. Oh, and now with the self publishing gig, I’ve got to do self promotion (which is another can of worms). So how do I find time to write, and when I do find that time, how do I maximize my time?
A big key to that is establishing a rhythm or pattern. Arrange some section of time every day where I always write. A pattern or structure like that means that my brain settles into the process much more readily, essentially, I’m training myself to write. Key to this, I can’t give into the “I’m not really in the mood” excuses. Sometimes this means I’m writing stuff that I know is total crap, as I beat my head against the wall and try to get everything to click. Sometimes, I never break through that wall and I just churn out crap that I dump into the bytes bucket.Sometimes, when I break through that wall, I find that I’m doing some of my best writing.
I do most of my writing late at night, when I’m really writing. Three to four hours is essential, and when I can afford the lack of sleep, I’ll go five or six hours sometimes. What do I get in that time? Typically I write around 3000-5000 words in around four hours. On a good night, when the stars are in alignment and things are really flowing… I can do 8000-10000 words.
Part of the essentials for writing like that lie in maximizing my use of time. To get myself in the mood I’ll eliminate distractions: no Facebook, no emails, no Google Plus, and most importantly, no internet research. Those things will go from, “let me just check” and quickly turn into “Where did my time go???” Next up, I try to find either a quiet spot in the house (not always easy with multiple roommates, cats, dogs, and a fiance), or I just plug in the earbuds and crank the music. Music is one of those things that work excellently for me. The right songs, paused when I stopped writing, put me right back where I was when I left off. The right music can act as a soundtrack to my writing and lets me focus on what’s important.
A comfortable position is also important. I’ll spend three to four hours a night in the same spot. At the end of it, if I’m hunched over a keyboard for that time, I’ll have to take breaks or I’ll end up with back issues. A comfortable chair, brain food, and some drinks (Caffeine!!!) all are part of this. All of this is to help focus though, and nothing should be enough to be a distraction. I don’t want to do my writing lying down in bed, if I’m too comfortable I’ll be fighting sleep. If I have a pile of snacks, or I’m eating a full meal, I won’t be focused on writing.
And what is brain food? Brain food is stuff that stimulates your brain. Chocolate, Mints, and stuff that stimulates my taste buds but doesn’t overpower them. Eating healthy before hand (IE, eating a full meal that’s got everything I need to function) is a good thing too.
So, all in all, I do put a lot of thought into preparing for writing. I have written out in the field, in flight (no fold down trays on a C-17), and various other places. Even so, I get the most done when I properly prepare myself.