Several weeks ago, in a panic of “I have nothing to write about” I clued you lovely readers in on the pre-writing part of my writing process. And since zero people told me how boring and lame it was, it’s your fault you’re getting Part 2: How I Write. You have no one to blame but yourselves!

Take all of this with a grain of salt. This is my “perfect” day of writing when I’m behaving. I don’t always have a perfect day and I rarely behave.

The Setup
The process usually starts at noon. (Yes, I wish I could start earlier and get more done earlier in the day but so far I haven’t found the magic bean or right motivational meme to get my ass in the chair earlier. Whomp whomp.) I check my to do list for the day, leave my phone and smart watch in the kitchen. Next, I sit down at my hopefully cleaned off desk with my water and possibly some coffee, then I turn on my noise canceling headphones and cue up my playlist. I am a very distractable pers—did you just see the squirrel that ran by the window with an acorn the size of my face???

Where was I? Oh yeah. I use headphones to block out as much of the world as possible. For the most part, I listen to the same writing playlist (The Killers, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Macklemore, Chris Stapleton, Queen, etc.) every day. By the third song I’m not really hearing the music anymore because it works as a trigger to shift me into writing mode.

Next up in the “block out the world” strategy is setting my Stay Focused app on my computer to block the internet (or the most distractable parts of it) for X number of hours. If I can’t get on Facebook, I can’t accidentally lose 2 hours to it.

The Pre-Writing
I’ve found it incredibly helpful to take a notebook and freehand write what happens in the scenes I’m writing that day. Sometimes it’s just bullet points. Sometimes dialogue pops into my head. Sometimes it’s a brand-new idea that wasn’t even on the outline. This usually takes 5-10 mins unless I’m on a major roll in which case I follow the muse.

The Actual Writing
I have no concept of time. None. Every time the oven timer goes off, I’m convinced it malfunctioned because there’s no way 30 minutes just passed. Anyway, I keep a Time Timer with a white board on my desk. I set it for 25-minutes and I write. I’m ONLY allowed to write for those 25 minutes. No getting up for a snack. No checking email. No answering the video call from author friends. No pee break. Just writing.

If I’m stuck searching for a word or if I have an idea for something important I add a ** to the manuscript, describe what I need to fill that spot and move on. I do this for character names, descriptions of buildings, adjectives I can’t come up with. “What’s that color you get when you mix blue and red? Pink? Puce? Periwinkle?” I don’t wait for purple to pop into my head. I leave a **blue and red you idiot note to myself and keep going. The ** notes generally do not get fixed in the first draft.

At the end of every 25-minute sprint, I mark down my new word count in a spreadsheet that Mr. Lucy designed for me. This way I can see how productive I’m being with my time. It’s a real kick in the face when I see that yesterday at the same time I wrote 500 words in 25 minutes and today I only managed 32. Once I’ve recorded my word count, I set the timer for five minutes and get up and move around, snack, pee break, switch the laundry over, look at the squirrel.

Then I sit back down and it’s time for another 25-minute sprint. I perform really diligently when I’m sprinting with another author, but that means I either have an ongoing text convo or I have to keep opening Facebook and both of those are big no-nos. So I’ve been training myself to compete against myself and I started asking Mr. Lucy to check in on me periodically. That way he can yell at me for spending 40 minutes watching squirrels instead of writing.

I like to aim for between 6 and 8 writing sprints per day and can average 500 words a sprint WHEN I’M BEHAVING AND DOING ALL THE THINGS I NEED TO BE DISTRACTION FREE AND COMMITTED.

The End of the Day of Writing:
I try to aim for a certain word count within a certain number of sprints. Sometimes I hit it. Sometimes I don’t. I feel like a hero who just vanquished an evil villain when I’ve hit my goal and I feel like a big squirrel obsessed dope when I don’t. Every day is structured around hitting my word count goal within an allotted amount of time. Because if I miss my goal too many days in one book, it messes with the whole editorial calendar and creates even bigger headaches for Mr. Lucy than the ones he already has just from living with me.

And that’s how I write. It’s a constantly evolving process.

P.S. I feel like I should clarify that there are A LOT of squirrels in our yard. And they are very loud and attention-whorey. I don’t actually have a bizarre obsession, I just can’t help but notice them. There’s this one that wears his tail like a hat and when I asked him why… never mind.

2 replies
  1. Diane Burke
    Diane Burke says:

    I saw you and your co-authors on an old SPF interview. Loved all of your personalities so I looked up your books. Am now starting the Bluewater Billionaire Series. I don’t normally comment on blogs. (I never get anyone commenting on mine but at least I hope they read them) BUT this one was hysterical and really helpful. I am going to start trying a timer and getting up and moving. I have been so stiff and sore lately from the long hours sitting at my computer. Thanks for both the laugh and the advice!!

  2. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your writing process with us. I too have a plethora of squirrels running a muck in my life. Those damn squirrels run around in tutus and tap shoes making it impossible to turn away sometimes. I’m grateful you have Mr Lucy to help rein them in when they get out of hand. I love your books and the worlds you create. Thank you for being you!

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