How Do You Write?

How Do You Write?

      I am interested in your words always. That’s the predominate reason I continue to blog after all these years. But I am also very interested in how you do it. What is your routine? Is it early morning? Is it late at night? Do you like coffee when you write or tea or beer? Do you have a word count that you must hit each day? What is your editing process like? Do you have a pre-writing process? Do you outline?

     One of the things I like so much about writing is that there is no single method for getting where I want to go. I still have a job that go to every day, you know, the one that actually pays the bills while I get this writing off the ground. In that job, there is a discipline required, certain way of doing things, and there are repercussions for not completing tasks in that manner. With writing, it is not so. The only thing that matters is success. Are my stories understood and does my audience like what I am writing. Really the two criteria for a story, especially so for fiction.

     I don’t have a particular set order for when I write, how much I write. I know some famous writers have set for themselves a target for how many words a day they will write. Someday when (notice I didn’t say “if”) I am a full time writer with writing being my only job, I might have such a standard. But now I work close to fifty hours a week. I travel for my company more than I like to so the whole word count thing doesn’t work all that well. My goal is to write everyday. If it’s ten words, if it’s ten thousand words, I just want to put my fingers on the keyboard and let my mind run wild.

    My favorite time to write is when I am done with whatever chores I feel are necessary to keep my house of cards from blowing down. This is around five in the evening on most work days and earlier on the weekends. It is not a requirement for writing, but I like staring whatever I am going to be working on when I have just opened a beer. I can’t write while drunk, but a couple of beers will always seem to put the world I have been fighting behind me and bring out the creative juices. Being creative is what it is all about. I would do almost anything to be more creative. It is a drug all its own. Those of you who know what I am talking about, know what I am talking about.

     I have a favorite place to write. It is in front of my fireplace with a fire going, regardless of how hot or cold it is. My wife thinks I am crazy in July with the a fire going while the air conditioner is cooling everything down but that is what works for me, so that is what I do. It will only be crazy if I am not someday making a living writer. When (not “if”) I am as famous as other famous authors, writing in front of a fire in July will become the gold standard for where to write.

    The last thing I will tackle in this post are my editing and pre-writing styles. I don’t have any. I will piddle and paddle along, tinkering at the edges, reading everything I can to try and have an idea for a story, but it has to be just that. An idea! A thunderbolt. Inspiration. I have never done well when I sat down and tried to manufacture a story. It has to be something that comes to me. When it does, I don’t need an outline. The outline is in my head, clear as a sunny day, ready for me to write. I know the beginning, the middle, and the ending. I don’t have to do anything but write it (Note my Thunderbolts From God post).

     Once it is written, the editing style I have adopted is to just write it again. I print off what I have written, stick it in front of my face and write it again. I don’t have set number of times to write it. I write it until it is a story that I am comfortable with. It is usually three times but sometimes more sometimes less.

      Again, the thing I like about writing is that there are no rules for how to do it. It only matters that it is good. A Hall of Fame football coach once revealed that he only had two rules. Be on time and play like hell. That kind of sums up what I would tell any aspiring writer.

     Now that I have shared my writing habits, I would love to hear yours.

Tim Keen


About timkeen40

When I was seven, I opened one of those little Golden Books (Lassie) and started copying the words down on paper and it set my soul on fire. I have been writing ever since. I don't know where this is going but I invite you along on the journey.
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50 Responses to How Do You Write?

  1. Laura Beth says:

    I love this! I’ve always been curious about other writers and their styles.

    For me, I don’t have a set schedule. I try to compose one blog post per day. I don’t always publish that post on that day, but I’m like you – When I have an idea, I HAVE to get it out of my head!

    I enjoy National Novel Writing Month every year – It gives me a goal to strive for. I’ve done it for 2012 through 2014. I skipped 2015 (Wedding / honeymoon / Thanksgiving!), but I’m super amped for 2016. I want to fully finish and edit my 2012 through 2014 attempts within the next year, and have them ready for self-publishing.

    I enjoy writing where I’m comfortable, usually with a blanket on my lap. I’m usually the first one in my office on the weekdays, so I find myself composing blog posts for roughly the first hour that I get to work (7:30 – 8:30 a.m.) when it’s completely quiet and I’m able to listen to music or podcasts. I’m not one of those people who can write at Starbucks – Too many distractions.

    I want to make my future office in our new home my ultimate writing space – A writing desk, a comfortable chair with a blanket, a window seat, and surrounded by books. That’s perfection to me. I love your fireplace image!

  2. I am still new enough to all of this that I’m figuring it out as I go, but I will keep you posted! 🙂

  3. I love writing short blog posts but since I’ve started my full-time job it’s on the back burner for the most part. I don’t write fiction, but like you, I do best when I am inspired and I too know the beginning, middle and end. Then I just write Tim, till I’m finished and let it be for a day or two. Then I come back and edit, let it sit again a day or two, do a final edit and publish. ❤
    Diana xo

  4. Monday mornings with coffee in my room where the walls are covered with my photography and paintings. They remind me that written words are meant to be shared and not kept hidden inside.

  5. timkeen40 says:

    Thanks to all of you for responding. I love hearing from my writers. We share something that no one who doesn’t write could even come close to understanding.


  6. Just Joan says:

    I write poetry mostly. I write every day. Some days, the Muses speak and I take dictation at the kitchen table. Then I go to my desk and computerize my scribbles into whatever seems most apt–rhymes, shapes, free verse, specific forms or whatever. A day or two later, I revise and polish, check thesaurus for better words, etc. I like prompts because they give the Muses something to play around with. Trying to force a poem onto the page is like trying to poop when you don’t need to–you can strain all day but nothing productive is going to happen. On those days, I just relax and free-write about whatever is on my mind, without any expectations. Coffee is a must. I’ve never attempted a long work, like a novel, because I’m afraid I’d get so caught up in it that I’d hole up at my desk and only come out to answer the door for pizza deliveries. Thanks for asking Tim, fun blog and love seeing others’ responses, too. 🙂

  7. Eugenia says:

    I write because I enjoy it. If there are thoughts I like to share, then there is my motivation. Plus I like the interaction with other writers.

  8. I do have a favorite place to write at home-but I can write anywhere quiet-n0 interrupting please-that makes me nuts! I do not worry about word count. I write in my head first, then straight on the lap top. I do try to observe a schedule of posting-mainly to help my readers know I am committed and dependable. I like coffee and prefer mornings. Good topic- interesting ! Thanks and best wishes.

  9. Rebecca Dawn says:

    I love to write whenever. As soon as I get home from work. I sit myself down and write. I cant write in the quiet. I have to have music or the tv on. Lots of light and especially front of the window so I can see the sky and clouds.

  10. I have a routine, that I break often. I write every morning, early, usually starting around 5 or 5:30. When it’s warm enough, outside. I usually meditate first, to start my day. Then write. I don’t usually know what I’m going to write about in the morning.

    Then I write again at night. I like to review my day, and put down on the page what was important, what stayed with me, what lessons I may have learned, what joy or pain I experienced.

    I write in word, or open office, lol, because I can’t afford Microsoft office. I save it to my computer, and then copy and paste here. Most of my editing is done here on my essay/journal type blogs. On poetry, I edit in word because it takes longer, lol. And I often have to let a verse sit for awhile before I’m sure it’s what I want to say.

    Then again, if something happens to me during the day, that I need to get onto the page, I stop and write. Sometimes it’s just compelling, I just have to get it out of me, and into the universe.

  11. ghostmmnc says:

    So interesting to see the different writing routines (or not) of everyone. For me, most mornings are spent catching up with reading emails and blogs I follow. Late afternoons, is when I write my stuff. No outlines, no planning, just write it on my blog, unless it is a longer fiction piece, then I write it by hand in a notebook first. I like to play mindless computer games while I’m thinking of what I’m going to write. It’s funny how things pop into your head when you’re not trying to think too hard. I’ll jot down the ideas as they come. 🙂 Wishing you a fabulous week ahead!

  12. I don’t have a certain routine for my blogs. But, before I write my blog on the web, I write it in one of my many note books and then I type it up online.

  13. Like you, my best work is just like lighting from heaven. I can’t tell you how many novel ideas I’ve come up with this way (well I could tell you, but I’m too lazy to stop and try to figure out how many). It doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, it just happens. Sometimes under a powder blue summer sky, sometimes in the shower, sometimes when I’m just trying to drift off to sleep. It can be a little inconvenient, but I’m grateful for the steady flow of ideas.

    Now when I start writing those ideas down, I do so usually in a frenzy of activity. I rarely use my computer for this, for some reason that doesn’t work so well for me, probably because the internet is right there. I use a pen/pencil and a notebook. If things go off well I could end up with a few notebooks full of a novel. I did this once or twice, the first time took me a day, but that was the first draft I’d ever written, it was terrible. The second time took me about two or three weeks. I was writing literately every second I could spare, which wasn’t a whole lot of time, ten twenty minutes here, an hour there ect. I think it’s great to always make sure you have somewhere to write down ideas, wherever you are, a tiny notebook, the notepad in your phone, the back of a receipt. Just get those ideas down. If I’m out and about and can’t follow my idea, I find all I need is some framework, just a sentence, usually dialogue from one of the characters, where I can pick up again later. I also sometimes do this in the middle of a story hehe, I’ll be writing the lull in one chapter and suddenly come up with a brilliant idea for a chapter or two ahead, those shreds of ideas go in the margins of my notebook, it can get a little chaotic.

    Suffice to say, writing is the easy part for me.

    I’ve got to force myself to edit. I’ve been struggling to ‘put my editing hat on’ so to speak. Somehow I’ve managed. I’ve taken the novel I’m working on right now through eight or so drafts already, and I couldn’t be prouder of myself, I really don’t know how the hell I did it. I have learned a trick that does seem to help though, and that is reading the document out loud, this seems to get my editing side going…

    This is what works for me : ) I hope you continue to find different things that work for you. Never give up your dreams!


    PS. traveling is a really great way to improve your writing.

    • timkeen40 says:

      You keep on writing and working on things as you see fit. The one thing I have learned from this post is there are as many ways to write as there are people. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to share your wisdom with all of us.


  14. Bumba says:

    Interesting. For me, I have to like what I like. Otherwise I can’t see it through. I also worked all the time. I finished two novels over twenty years. No one reads them – at least not yet. It takes a lot of time what with the editing, so you have to feel good about the writing on, at least I did.

  15. Chez Shea says:

    Really enjoyed this post. I completely get the need to write something, anything- even when you are so busy doing other stuff you could just fall asleep. Love the fact that the blogosphere brings people who feel like this together.

  16. writersideup says:

    Hi, Tim 🙂 Seeing as I don’t write everyday (unless you consider blog comments lol), I can’t say I have an actual routine, BUT I do have preferences.

    A few years back, when I was in the midst of writing a novel (now cast aside since it’s “grown up” and is considered “practice”), I would often listen to a fitting movie score in the background because it kept me in that frame of mind. I no longer do that really, not to say I won’t again at some point, even in spurts.

    I do find that once I’ve had my morning coffee and my brain has a chance to wake up a bit, that’s when I’m most likely to get some good writing done (when I do it), but one thing I’ve discovered is that the sound of a storm helps me focus. It’s not “white noise” because it fluctuates and is not constant, but there’s something about it that really works for me. I discovered it when someone posted in a writer’s chat on Twitter. There’s also if you like the random noises of a cafe at different times of day.

    My biggest distractions are TV and the internet which is why I won’t turn on the TV at all when I have things to concentrate on. I’ve yet to shut off the internet, though, because there are too many things I’m connected to, some of which I like to keep up with in a timely manner AND I hate the build of emails, etc. (it’s a bane!). I continue to hope to get it all under control and more balanced so I can make writing a priority, but life’s demands (and my foggy brain and now dealing with the flu for 2 weeks already, with NO END in sight) keeping it from happening. We’ll see!

    And if you love reading about writers’ processes and habits, there’s a book I’ve yet to purchase, but is on my wishlist:

    There are also the wonderful books about “Writers on Writing” that I just love, but have only read in spurts. I love seeing work spaces, too 🙂 I don’t have an ideal space just yet, but am grateful to have Word processing, especially since my hands can only do so much longhand without pain at this point. I don’t have a fireplace I can use, though its ambiance has definite appeal! There are at least virtual ones on YouTube 😉 YouTube also has all kinds of storms, ocean sounds and whatever, too, all nice backdrops while writing, I think 😀

    Nice post, Tim!

    • timkeen40 says:

      I have a favorite CD downloaded to cyberspace. It is Summer Thunder. I can listen to it and at the same time. The two together block out everything and leave me only to my thoughts.

      Thanks for stopping by!!

  17. I’m new to blogging but I am in the process of writing a novel. I find that I tend to write either early in the mornings or late nights. I usually write for a few hours in the comfort of my bed. I don’t write anywhere else because i get easily distracted, however, I always have a pocket book or my phone with me wherever I go so when i get ideas about something I can easily write them down.
    I have to say, I do get frustrated at times when writing because I feel as though what I’m writing is utter rubbish at times. I’ve been writing my novel for over a year now and boy is it hard work. I don’t believe that writers get enough credit but it’s great that we have spaces such as this where we have the support of other fellow writers who understand the hardships that comes with the territory.

    • SonniQ says:

      You and i have similar habits. I like to write from the comfort of my bed on my tablet. I can “swype” pretty fast. Mine writing began from letter writing. I write long letters. An inmate I was writing to and what he was going through prompted my first blog ( easy to find – it’s about prison issues) and also started a 2nd blog because I needed a place to write about other things I felt I needed to write about. I, too, began a book – almost two years ago. It is now written and I’m taking a month break and will work on my first edit. It is impossible to edit your own work. You have to have an outside person who isn’t involved who knows what they are doing. A content editor and a copy editor. And also a graphic artist. This all costs money as a self publisher. And you need a fan page and any other social media – and most of all, an email list. So now I’ve also started a newsletter once a month to add articles and this and that about the issues around my book. So now I have to fit all that into my day, too. But if you don’t have a way to market your book in a better way than just putting it over sm and say you wrote a book and none of these people have been following you and reading chapters, you aren’t going to sell many books. Now I’m learning how to use facebook ads – the right way or no one will see them. The more I learn the more time it takes. But I don’t have another job because all of this takes me about 60+hours a week. Writing and business and also reading others blogs and making friends. You really have to want to be a writer if you are writing a book. You don’t have to be a writer to be a blogger and have fun. My biggest tip – learn grammar. Know where to put the darn commas. I can tell a self published book in 2 minutes if they don’t know grammar and didn’t pay an editor. Well, that kinda rambled on! Good luck to you!

  18. I need to get back to writing. It calls to me like a naggy spouse, perpetually waggling a to-do list before me. Maybe I need a fireplace. Yea, that must be it. In the meanwhile, I should probably just light a candle and stop the dawdling. I find that if I wait for time and/or inspiration, I just don’t do it. For me, I write when I sit down to write. It’s that simple. It is not always fabulous, but when I carve out the time, the words just come. Like magic.

    Have you read “The War of Art”, by Steven Pressfield? It is a super-awesome book for writers, creators and procrastinators of any sort. It is brilliant and succinct. Check it out.

    I truly enjoyed this post. Thanks for the inspiration. And of course, for the fireplace suggestion. I will work on that. And on my writing. 😉

    • timkeen40 says:

      I am glad you like the post. I don’t think you need a fireplace necessarily. Hell, if it works, then make it happen. You said it best when you said you “write when I sit down and write. It’s that simple….when I carve out the time, the words just come. Like magic.”

      I have not read “The War of Art” but I will check it out.

      Just keep writing. The pen and paper will never come together without the mind and the will.


  19. Tell me what you write or how you write and I will tell you who you are ! 🙂
    In friendship

    • timkeen40 says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I have always said that no matter how objective a writer tries to be with what he is writing, just little piece of himself is given away in that writing. It just cannot be helped.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  20. Good question, thanks for asking. I write like I live – inspired. I do not force anything, because it won’t work out. Not for me, at least. So sometimes I write a lot, sometimes not at all. I never fear ‘the muse’ will desert me, even with somewhat long spells of not writing. I’ve written all my life, and will doubtless do it until my life’s end. Aloha.

    • timkeen40 says:

      Thanks for the response. The muse gives to us in different ways and at different times. It what works for the individual. I would tell you to keep on writing, but since it is truly part of you, those would be wasted words. You don’t even have a choice.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  21. I have no routine. I write when I’m inspired. I edit only once I’m all done. I listen to music without words. I enjoy coffee but tea is ok too.

  22. nrhatch says:

    When an idea pops into my head, I try to capture it before it evaporates, knowing I can flesh it out and/or edit it later.

    No set schedule for writing.
    No word counts.
    No set beverage.

    I just go with the flow. And, this summer, the flow has changed my focus from writing to Bridge.

    • timkeen40 says:

      I love a good card game. I like Rook. Never played Bridge. They strike me as very similar, though.

      Thanks for the stop by.


      • nrhatch says:

        Definite similarities between the two games ~ bidding for trump, taking tricks, etc. But it’s been ages since I played Rook so I can’t say much more than that.

  23. Hi Tim, Such a love of writing expressed in all the comments. I felt like you were describing my process. I had always wanted to write, but didn’t know what to write. I wrote personal journals but didn’t relate writing for myself as the same as being a writer. Entries were never edited to final form.
    Now, publishing to a blog, I don’t have a word count and strive for fewer words to make the same point. I’m an inspirational writer and I don’t want to fill in all the blanks, but leave something for the reader to figure out. I use more words when accounting personal experience, or sharing a story, because that’s what I love to read.
    I have a full-time job, but blessed to work from home. I write at 5am until I start work at 8am, then from 5pm until however long that takes. I chose a 365 day writing project – a calendar – so right out of the gate I had no days off. It turned out to be a blessing. I’m about to complete my first full year. Now, instead of wondering when I will be done so I can do something else, writing is the favorite thing to do.
    Passion is my most important tool – feeling driven to share something that feels important to me, and saying it the best way i can.
    I see now how hard it is to mince words when talking about writing! Thank you for the topic.
    in lak’ech, Debra

  24. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks a little alcohol (or other creativity inspiring “drugs”) is good to get the juices flowing haha
    It’s interesting seeing all of these writing methods. I like to write in the morning if I can help it; I get several days off during the week so like to make sure I get some writing in before anything else distracts me, but I don’t write with any word counts in mind.

  25. Journal: same time, same place, every day. Pocket notebook: whatever hits me and whenever … includes drawing and noting what others say. Poetry: like notebook, as and when it arrives. Short stories and novels: long haul, so many words a day, and set pages. Inspiration: whenever, and long hours if it actually arrives and is worth working. Pen and paper for journal, notebook, poetry. Computer for novels and short stories. Good post and very interesting.

  26. Sparrow says:

    Hi Tim,
    Great post. It’s interesting to think about how I get my blog on, as opposed to what it is I actually write about. I love to blog right away in the morning, preferably with a nice hot cup of coffee. I’m trying to get back on the blog bandwagon, and this is just what seems to work best so far. Thought recently, it’s been blogging with some kind of healthy smoothie, and not so much coffee. I guess I’ll have to reserve that for my weekends. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

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