Kelsey Sandy
“I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.” -Flannery O'Connor

(above) The room where Flannery wrote her two hours a day in Milledgeville, Georgia

I've always been interested in the habits of the writers that I admire. How do they write? When do they write? Where? Do they use a computer, typewriter, or simply pen and paper?

Truman Capote wrote laying down with a coffee and cigarette, while Phillip Roth claims to write standing up at a lectern.

Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words a day and mostly in the mornings, while Stephen King says that he writes 10 pages a day.

J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter in a coffee shop with her sleeping baby beside her. She says that she can write anywhere, anytime. That she's used to writing with distractions.

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Lawrence Clark Powell Library.

I find that writing, while I truly love it, is almost like working out. I never quite “feel like it,” but if I just suck it up and do it, I'm a happier and healthier person. I feel a strong sense of guilt when I don't write. And when I write everyday? I feel like I could conquer the world.

So, what's my writing habit? I've gone through many over the years. In high school, I would write for hours every day after school. During college, I'd write “when inspiration hit,” sometimes even waking up in the middle of the night and jotting down lines of poetry in a notebook I kept on my bedside table. During grad school, I wrote when stories were due, in between writing papers and grading papers and reading, reading, reading. Over summers, when I had nothing else scheduled, it was easy. I'd write 1,000 words a day, every day. And, during my thesis year, last year, I was the most dedicated I'd every been: I wrote 10 pages 3 days a week in the Starbucks down the street.

Because I've been a student or teacher all of my life, my schedule changes every semester and, with it, my habit of writing. From all my time in writing courses, I'm sorry to say that I don't have “The Answer.” I can't say what time of day you should write, how many words or pages, whether you should sit outside in a park with a legal pad and a pencil or lock yourself away in a dark, windowless room with your laptop. But I do feel passionately that you should have a “Habit of Art,” as Flannery O'Connor put it. I believe that all writers should be writing and often.

So, again, what's my writing habit? Guiltily, I admit, I don't have one yet this semester. I like to have a large chunk of time (2 hours at least). I like to be away from home. Coffee shops don't distract me, my husband, my dogs, my television do. I like to write on a laptop with a pen and paper nearby for notes. I like to have easy access to research (a la an internet connection). This semester, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have a break between class from 11:30am to 4:30pm. I think this will be my time to walk to the nearest coffee shop (or maybe bar) with my laptop, notebook, and pen.

What's your writing habit? When, how, where, with what utensil do you write?

And if you don't have a strict regimen yet, commit today! Write on, fellow writers!
4 Responses
  1. Maternity leave has been the best thing for my writing :). While my sweet baby is asleep in his swing, I edit, research, beta-read, blog, tweet, query, and most importantly, write! My current goal is 1,000 words/day. And it feels SO good when I reach it!

  2. Abby Says:

    I am figuring out my habit! It seems to be ever changing as life is ever changing. I am starting another semester of school so hoping to having writing time during the baby's nap time (which is starting to be only every other day now) and then homework at night when the kids are in bed. If I get enough homework done and have time I will write at night too. I wish I could escape to starbucks for more writing time. I love that place!

  3. Kelsey Sandy Says:

    Alright, I'm on my first Monday break (since I posted my resolution). I've spent the first two hours lesson planning and eating lunch. Now, I'm about to spend the next two hours editing my novel! So far, so good.

  4. Kate Says:

    So proud of you. Get that book published. It's a great read! I can see it being turned into a movie.

    I can picture you and Jessica walking down the red carpet together!