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How much do I write per day? That’s a good question. My answer? It depends. On a lot of things.
I usually center my writing on a few set times per day. Each work day, I get up, have my coffee, take my vitamins and my fish oil like a real adult, do a light workout (at least a jog of 20 minutes or more), and then cool down at home for about an hour. Then I take my meds, have my breakfast shake, and mentally prepare myself for writing.
The beginning of the ritual has changed over time, and I’m always open to changing it to suit my needs.
Right now, it goes like this: first, I turn off the overhead lights in my apartment, and turn on the white LED lamp next to my desk. Then, I pull out my “process diary” and note the date, time, project, and duration of this particular writing block. So, “8/1/17 10:05AM, blogging, 40 min”.(If you’re wondering, yes, some of my posts are written ahead of time, including this one. I do my best to give myself a comfortable lead on content creation, so I’m not losing my mind to make sure I have a post ready for publication.)
After that, I note my location, what kind of notes I’m working with, how I’m writing, and things like noise or music going while I’m working. Example: “@computer, no notes, typing, noise app/music”. Then, at the noted time, I start the timer and write.
When I’m in my time, all I do is write. I sit at my desk and type or write by hand, and that’s all I do. Every device is disconnected from the internet (as much as one can in this day and age), I close out any applications that might draw my attention away from what I’m doing, and I keep focused on the task at hand.
After the timer goes off, I make a few notes about the session—how it felt, what I wrote, what I might need to do in the future, etc. I take a deep breath, quiet my mind, and take a short break. Stretching and flicking through stuff on my phone happens here. The process begins again after the break is over, and continues like that until I’m satisfied with what I’ve done for the day.
On days where I work in the afternoon, I usually only have one longer session. Focused and intense writing can leave me with a lot of anxious energy, and I don’t want to take that with me to work. My evening shifts are easier to manage, and sessions in the afternoon, should I take them, are much lower in intensity and focus.
I try not to put too much stock in word counts beyond a rough estimate for a given project. I’ve found that trying to work towards a specific count tends to negatively affect the writing process. I’ve caused myself a lot of stress in my time by working too hard to hit arbitrary counts, and letting go of that particular part of the process has been freeing for me.
I’ve found that I write more when I don’t have a specific goal in mind. There is a need to keep things from spiraling away from me, but that’s about the extent of it.