Everything Is Already Something Week 60: How To Be Like A Famous Writer

Allison Page is habit forming.

Every time I read an article about the habits of famous writers, I notice the same thing:

THEY ACTUALLY DO HAVE HABITS.

They have a routine. Something that I hate thinking about, because I’m not good at routines. Even the word “routine” has not-so-good connotations. It sounds boring and terrible. It sounds like you’re just doing laundry all day. But recently I’ve had trouble finishing things. Okay, let’s be real, I’ve had trouble even starting things. I don’t want to call it writers’ block because I hate that phrase, but it’s eerily similar to that. I used to just write for myself and that was so easy because my deadlines were self-imposed but now there are people who are waiting to get things from me. They need the thing, and they need it on this day, and stuff is piling up and panic is creeping up on me. So I decided to try something else: having a routine. Not only a routine, really, but an incredibly specific, strict and rigid agenda for my whole day. DOESN’T THAT SOUND FUN?! WOOOHOOO.

Okay, here’s the list I made:

7:30am – Wake up, splash some water on my face
7:45am – Go for a walk, get an iced coffee, THINK
8:15am – Eat 2 eggs
8:30am – Write for 45 minutes straight
9:15am – Take a shower
9:35am – Check email. Respond but don’t go crazy.
10:00am – Go outside. Walk in a different direction than before. Going outside is good. You won’t want to go, but do it anyway. You are not a recluse. YOU ARE NOT A RECLUSE.
10:20am – Write for 45 minutes straight.

Jerry Seinfeld writes every single day. He marks off days on a big wall calendar and says his only job becomes "not breaking the chain"

Jerry Seinfeld writes every single day. He marks off days on a big wall calendar and says his only job becomes “not breaking the chain”

11:05am – Check social media, you heathen. For the love of Groucho, you really
shouldn’t be checking it before now. You’re a writer, not a socialite.
11:30am – Do some KML stuff (Killing My Lobster, the sketch comedy company I am co-creative director of) but don’t fall down the rabbit hole of shit you COULD do.
12:00pm – Eat lunch. NOT A FUCKING BAGEL. Extra points if there are vegetables and you make it yourself.
12:45pm – Write for 45 minutes straight.
1:30pm – Put on some music. Clean something. Anything.
2:00pm – Check email.

Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day while writing. I don't want to know what his bathroom situation was like.

Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day while writing. I don’t want to know what his bathroom situation was like.

2:20pm – This is generally when you start not being able to write. You know that. It’s okay, you already wrote for two hours and fifteen minutes…BUT YOU’RE GOING TO DO SOME MORE ANYWAY. Write for 20 minutes. It’s okay if you hate it (you will)
2:40pm – Reward yourself with something. You did fine. Have a snack or take a nap. Watch TV or listen to a podcast.
3:00pm – Pay attention to your poor boyfriend for a while.
4:00pm – Read something that isn’t on the internet.
5:00pm – Dinner. Extra points if you make it yourself.
6:00pm – Print and read over everything you wrote today. It helps to have a physicalization of your work.
8:00pm – Watch The Bachelorette finale (YEAH, I KNOW)
11:00pm – Go to sleep. You did fine. You’re not a monster. Not today, anyway.

Agatha Christie had no desk and just propped her typewriter up on any stable surface she could find.

Agatha Christie had no desk and just propped her typewriter up on any stable surface she could find.

So how did it go, you’re wondering?

Sadly, IT WAS AMAZING. I got so much done. I had been sitting on about 9 pages of a one act commission since April and couldn’t seem to work on it. It’s now 30 pages long, and finished. That feels good. The guilt of not doing something when you know you should be doing it is crippling. So that’s out of the way, and the bonus is that I’m really happy with it! I actually wrote more than I had even planned (about three hours), cleaned my bathroom, made a salad, picked up my new glasses, swept the floor, and generally was a total badass all day, in the most boring sense. Most importantly, though, I felt really good all day. I woke up the next day still feeling awesome. I think scheduling, for me, is a good method. It may not work for everyone, but I felt strangely more free than usual. And forcing myself to go for a walk? That was amazing. If I don’t have a reason to leave, I could easily sit on my butt all day.

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If you want to give this a whirl, please do let me know how it works for you in the comments!

Also I totally had a breakfast sandwich from down the street instead of eating two eggs. No woman is an island.

Allison Page is a writer/actor/person with an awful lot of deadlines at the moment.

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One comment on “Everything Is Already Something Week 60: How To Be Like A Famous Writer

  1. bjwany says:

    Ahhh! Totally inspired to do some of this since I have been “taking a break from writing” lately = not doing writing…

    And you know how I love processes and routines that are laid out by someone else so I can develop my own style… 😉

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