Without question, one of the most frustrating aspects of being a writer is the act of writing itself. At times, even the most disciplined author will flinch at the sight of a blank piece of paper. Fortunately, the development of writing ability is much like the development of a muscle. And like a muscle, our writing ability only stays “in shape” so long as we use it. This is why so many successful authors develop a daily writing habit.
How Great Authors Work
Without fail, for example, Stephen King writes 2000 words per day seven days per week. According to King, that schedule isn’t broken for Christmas, the Fourth of July, or the author’s own birthday. Similarly, before going to his job at the post office, Victorian author Anthony Trollope would sit down at his desk and write from 5am to 8am each morning. By keeping to this schedule, Trollope was able to produce some 47 published novels while holding down a day job.
Like Trollope, Charles Dickens kept a tight ship when it came to writing. With only a short break for lunch, Dickens invariably wrote in his study each day from 9am to 2pm. When inspiration wasn’t forthcoming, Dickens was said to sit at his desk and doodle or stare out of the window. But he always maintained his working hours.
What a Writing Routine Helps Authors Achieve
So what do these examples show us? To wit, it is that even the greatest writers must put in the hours to achieve writing of merit. To do that, these authors cultivated a sense of self-discipline and created a daily writing routine.
Creating a writing routine is more difficult than it sounds. At first, it will not feel natural to sit and write for hours every single day. The first few days of writing may even feel mind-numbingly boring. Many of us will give up on our first few attempts. (This is a normal occurrence. Most good authors contemplate giving up on writing at least once per day.)
Putting a Good Routine into Practice
But the comparison between writing and exercising is an apt one. With enough time, our body will begin to anticipate our writing routine each day. When we’ve got a real writing “groove” going, it will actually feel strange to not write.
And the benefits of creating a good writing routine can be truly wonderful. For example, imagine a writer who consistently puts 1000 words on the page seven days per week: If we consider that many books are about 60,000 words long, then such a writer would potentially be able to write as many as six book-length manuscripts per year.
Even if all those words aren’t used, however, it is not difficult to see that our hypothetical writer would get an enormous amount of practice in during that year. And practice is what makes great writers.