When is the best time to write? Do I have a writing routine?

I am often asked whether I have a writing routine.  Do I set a target for the number of words I wish to write each day? Is there a best time to write? Do the words flow better at certain times of the day?

Apparently Charles Dickens in his prime, used to write five hours a day, roughly between 9am to 2pm, after which he would walk incessantly, and put his mind into neutral. He might return to what he'd written in the morning later in the evening, but those five hours held the key to his output. While Raymond Chandler observed that it was impossible to write well for more than four hours a day.

Some writers prefer the morning, others start writing in the afternoon, and some will work long into the night. Some shut themselves away for weeks at a time, others write for a few hours every day.  It all depends on the individual and for me it also depends on what stage of the novel I am at.

And it is not just the matter of writing a novel but there needs to be time set aside for marketing, speaking engagements, answering e mails, researching the novel, speaking to experts, interviewing people and, of course, thinking time.

My writing routine varies, depending on my engagements and, as I have already mentioned, what stage of the novel I'm at. I don't set targets for writing a certain number of words but I do like to write every day, generally between 5pm and 7.30pm and will often write all afternoon and early evening.  Mornings are usually dedicated to marketing, correspondence, writing my blogs and often walking where I can either completely relax (or as Dickens says let my mind go into neutral) or think through some area of the plot.

There's also the question of how long it might take to complete a novel. My DI Andy Horton crime novels and my thrillers are generally 80,000 words which usually takes me nine months to write. I like to get the first draft written as quickly as possible then spend time on the revisions.  I'm now at the stage of the third revision of DI Andy Horton, number eight, as yet untitled. And how many revisions will I do? That all depends, but there will probably be another two after this.

If you'd like to know more about how I write my crime novels, or writing a crime novel then I am giving two talks at CSI Portsmouth 2011 on Saturday 5 November at John Pounds Centre, Portsea on the subject.

Join me for a packed programme of crime at:

John Pounds Community Centre, Portsmouth UK
23 Queen Street, Portsea, Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 3HN
Telephone Number: 023 9289 2010

Saturday 5th November 2011 10am – 5pm.

CSI Portsmouth tickets on sale from the Box Office + 44 (0)23 9268 8685.

Tickets cost £5 for the morning and £7 for the afternoon with a discounted ticket of £10 for the whole day and includes £3 off the price of a book bought at the event.


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