Writer’s Journal: Habits of a Good Day

How often do I write? Three or four hours a day, on average.

I’m 29 years old, married with two small kids. How do I do it? University teaching in Korea. 20 hours of work per week and four months of paid vacation a year.

My kids are getting older and my wife and I have decided to move back to America for their schooling, where I’m guessing I won’t be able to keep this habit up. I have until July to turn the $40 I make each month from amazon.com into $1,100 per month, at which point my wife might be okay with me not working a full-time job—and I’m not interested in writing erotica. Once I finish the trilogy I’m working on I’m going to try to draft a giant spaceship potboiler in 30 days.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I used to write mostly in the morning but now I spend that time procrastinating and waiting for my kids to wake up. Sometimes they get up at 7, other times at 9.

I do most of my writing midmorning and afternoon, standing almost the whole time to keep myself awake and to burn a few more calories. I use the Allocacoc portable standing desk, rainycafe or a song-of-the-day (today was Hjaltalin’s Goodbye July, but for years it’s mostly been the oldest Ali Farka Toure tunes I could find), and I usually work in a library facing the wall so I don’t get distracted and so I don’t spend the day’s kindle earnings at a cafe. The Freedom app has helped when I find myself researching too much online.

Today I only pumped out five pages because I had to spend a lot of time figuring out the plot to the current chapter (I’m a pantser who’s always trying to be a gardener/plotter). I try to do 10 pages every day but I fail a lot. A few times I’ve done 20 pages. Quantity has a quality all its own. Chris Fox’s books have helped a lot.

99% of the time I drink a small cup of strong coffee around six in the morning (and no more than that!) and use honey and apple vinegar just before bed to help me sleep (been battling middle-of-the-night insomnia with some success). I used to run a lot but I’ve switched to r/fitness‘s Bodyweight Fitness app and am currently doing the 7×7 card method to get myself to work out at least a little every day (I’ve almost finished the third row!). I also try to meditate for at least a few breaths every day. AND try to work an hour of computer programming into my schedule.

Reddit and netflix are my guiltiest pleasures. I’m reading Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise. Would kill to read it in French. I read in the mornings and evenings.

Whew. I think that’s it.