Have you ever looked at some writers and wondered how they write so much? In the world of literature, you have authors like Stephen King, Brandon Sanderson, and Robin Hobb, who put out novels year after year. Here on Medium, you have writers like Sinem Günel or Tim Denning, who can write between 5000 and 20,000 words every day.
What’s their secret? Are they born on a fll moon within a pentagram of typewriters? Do they sacrifice ancient tomes to strange woodland beings? Surprisingly, you don’t need to do any of that to be a productive writer. All you need to do is write.
We all know that, though. Write a lot, become better, then write more. But, there are many different approaches to writing. By exploring the ways of successful writers, you can get some ideas for building your ideal writing routine.
Different writing routines built on similar ideas
While most professional writers have a daily writing habit, their habits look different. Writing a lot is not about how fast you can type, but how quickly you can get into a creative mode and how long you can stay there. Writers work in different ways. Some writers can’t sit down for an hour to write without getting restless. Others can’t move away from their writing because they’ll lose their train of thought.
By looking at the habits of these productive writers, you can get some ideas for your writing routine. Take what works for you and ignore the rest. Don’t feel forced to do something because some famous writer does it.
Stephen King wakes up and, after taking some time in the morning, starts writing at around 8 am. He then writes until he has 2000 words, which generally takes him three to four hours. However, even if it takes half the day, he doesn’t stop until he has those words. According to this graph, this strict routine has helped him publish almost ten million words, not including short stories.
Writing is self-hypnosis to Stephen King. By doing the same thing every day, he gets into a good mental state for writing. In On Writing, he states that he needs to work on a new project every day once he starts it. If he doesn’t, the characters become stale, and he loses his hold on the story’s plot and pace.
He also suggests that you not only carve out time for writing but also a physical space. Having a room where you can shut yourself in and shut distractions out helps you stay focused. And when you sit down to write, your mind will know it’s time to get into writing mode.
Robin Hobb, who also writes under the name Megan Lindholm, is most known for her stories set in The Realm Of The Elderlings. She tends to publish a book every one to two years, some of which are over 500 pages long.
She writes on a notepad whenever she has the opportunity throughout the day. Then she types everything out later. By always carrying a notepad or even writing on your phone, you can let your mind work in the background of everything you do.
This approach can be great for writers who like to do something else as they let their minds work. When I’m taking walks and letting my mind wander, I often come up with ideas or phrases that I write down. You don’t have to shut yourself in a dark room to be a writer. Some writers just prefer dark rooms.
Brandon Sanderson has published almost 6 million words in the past 15 years. According to himself, this is not because he is an incredibly fast writer. His trick is consistency.
Like Stephen King, Sanderson writes every day and shoots for at least 2,000 words. Some days he stops after reaching the minimum, but other days he writes for 13 hours and produces 19,000 words. Sanderson does a lot of his writing at night to avoid distractions.
Like most great writers, Brandon Sanderson loves writing, which is how he reaches productivity levels. The way he takes breaks from writing his huge fantasy novels is by writing shorter books instead. If you learn to love writing so much that you never want to stop, you’ll be productive too.
Sinem Günel is a writer who I, and many others on this platform, admire. When she published this almost a year ago, she had produced over 300 posts.
She managed this by finding her optimal time to write and getting a minimum amount of work done every day. Like other writers, she also stresses the importance of focusing on your writing and avoiding distractions.
Your minimum goal for the day should be something that fits you. While Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King go for 2,000 words, Sinem has a more realistic goal for most writers. Without exception, she does some writing work by checking her notifications and responding to messages. This can take as little as 15 minutes, but once you’ve started writing, it’s easier to continue.
As I’m writing this, I looked at Tim Denning’s profile. In the past five days, he’s published nine stories. That’s around two stories a day. The trick? He loves writing, and he has built up to that volume of writing over years of practice.
He states in this article that he started off producing 2,000 words a day. That evolved into 4,000, which became 20,000 words a day. Tim Denning trained his writing habit like a muscle until it got unbelievably impressive.
Productivity doesn’t come naturally. You have to work at it and get to know yourself. What are your main distractions, and how can you get rid of them? How can you structure your process to make writing easier? These questions will help you train your writing muscles.
How can you become more productive?
Successful writers prioritize writing and set aside time every day to write. Writers who are focused on the task tend to write about 250–1000 words per hour. If you want to get a significant amount of writing done, you have to put in the hours.
My writing speed depends on how I’m structuring my writing session. In my most productive writing sessions, I’ve used the Pomodoro method of focusing for 25 minutes and taking 5 minutes off. If I’ve already got an outline, I can get around 1500–2000 words in an hour that way.
Write as much as you can, but don’t burn yourself out. Unless you’re plummeting towards a deadline, writing is not a sprint. It’s important to spend time on living too. The writing process is more than just putting words together.
Build a writing routine that fits you
Some writers are more productive in the morning, others in the middle of the night. Some like to write with music on, while others need complete silence. By trying different routines and tracking your productivity, you can discover your perfect routine.
Make that routine a habit by setting a daily goal. No matter what happens, you should try to hit that goal. That means you need to aim where you can hit. If you only have an hour or two for writing, don’t shoot for 4,000 words a day. You could manage that in one or two hours, but not every day.
By following a daily writing routine, you train your writing muscles. You’ll be able to get started quicker, write faster, and keep going longer. As with all things, a writing routine is something you have to practice.
These writers approach writing in different ways. However, they all treat it as an essential part of their lives. They prioritize writing, and they make sure to get words on the page every day.
Make time for writing and find your own way of doing it. Get to know yourself and what you need to do to create. If you love writing, you can work on it until you get to the level of these people. Challenge yourself to get better every day, and you’ll be amazed at how far you get in a year.