I've read several articles lately on when and how to make time to write. The argument, of course, is does one need a routine, writing in the same place, at the same time every day, or should one strive to write wherever, whenever the opportunity arises? The other type of article I frequently see, especially now, with NaNoWriMo approaching in November, is should one outline or write free form? The debate on these questions is endless.
Even in my writing group, there seems to be an ever-oingoing discussion about the right way, or the best way, to write. It seems to me that what all the debating comes down to, really, is a sort of literary alchemy that we writers fall prey to. We get caught up in trying to set things up 'just right,' so we can be our best selves and produce our best work. The more articles I read and the more we discuss this topic the more convinced I become, there really is no single right way to do any of it.
As much as we might wish otherwise, there is no one right time, or one right place, that an aspiring writer can slot themselves into to automatically become productive. Although we can, and should, strive to learn all we can about the mechanics of writing, to improve our craft, and routine can undoubtedly help with that, there is no magic formula for success.
For me, what works best is peace and quiet. No television in the background, no radio on, no kids yelling and playing nearby. Just me and my morning coffee, preferably with a cat on my lap and a dog at my feet. First thing in the morning is my best writing time, when my brain is still only half awake and less likely to question what I'm asking it to do.
Although I often have good intentions about writing in the evenings, it doesn't always happen. I have too much work stuff on my mind, then there is the need to make dinner, walk the dog, do dishes, etc. I can, and sometimes do, write when the evening chores are done, but it isn't my preference and the words don't flow as easily. Not to mention, evening is my reading time and I hate to give that up.
When I was younger, I would write late at night, after my restaurant job (which I went to after my office job). I would sit up quite late, when my son was asleep, writing whatever came to mind, or just jotting down bits of dialogue I'd overheard in the restaurant. These days I'm too old and frankly, I get tired to early, for late night writing. But back then, I worked double shifts almost every day and was simply used to it. Late at night was the only time I had, and so I took advantage of it.
My point in sharing this is simply to illustrate how even what works for one person can change and evolve over time, and under different circumstances. As I previously mentioned, I do have my preferred routines, but I can only presume that as long as I continue to want to write, I will continue to find a way to do it, no matter what circumstances I find myself in. If there ever were anything close to a magic formula, I suspect simply writing, no matter what, might be it.
A good writing group can be worth more than any one routine or technique, in my opinion, because they keep you motivated and help hold you accountable to your goals. Read about mine here.