by  Jan Christensen


Some writers don’t seem to have any trouble carving out time most days to write. But my impression is that most of us do have some difficulty with that aspect of “the business.”

When you dissect it, the writing process is not as straightforward as it would seem. Yes, at some point we have to sit down and “open a vein,” letting the words come to us either agonizingly slowly, in a huge gush, or somewhere in between.

But there’s some things to be done before that even happens. Number one is to find the best time of day to write, and number two is to figure out if you’re a plotter or a pantster. And then, you do have to sit down in the chair (or stand at the desk if you’re into that way of writing now) and open that vein.

Finding the right time for you every day can be tricky. I’ve met some writers who thought they couldn’t write in the morning (“I’m not a morning person!”), until they had no other choice but to get up before everyone else and write for an hour or so without interruptions. I’ve met writers who swore they couldn’t bear to get on the computer after working at one all day and do some of their own writing. But once they decided to take a short break after dinner and got to it, they could. Others didn’t want to give up their lunch hours to write.

If you’re having trouble finding the best time for you to write, I suggest you try each one of those times for two weeks and see how it goes. Keep track of word counts every day. Then you will simply have to pick the time where you did the best.

Now, if you like to plot your stories out, you’ll have to spend time doing that. Will that be during the hour or so you found to be your best writing time, or will it be at some other time? Can you perhaps sit for ten or fifteen minutes at the beginning of each writing session and plot out what you want to accomplish that day? Or do you need to have the whole project plotted before you even start? If the latter, you’re going to have to decide how to get that plot crafted.

Most successful writers I know or know about do have a set routine. Hemingway would go to his office every morning and stay there for four hours. Mary Higgens Clark got up an hour every morning before her children awoke and wrote. Repeating the same routine very day becomes hypnotic.

Just remember. You cannot edit something that’s not written. So, you have to figure out how to get ‘er done.


Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey. She bounced around the world as an Army wife, and in Texas when her husband retired. After traveling for eleven years in a motorhome, she settled down in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, Buried Under Clutter and most recently, A Broken Life. 

She's had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job. 

Learn more at her website:

Buy links for A Broken Life:


Hi Marilyn, I don't know if you have seen my last post, I have a free poetry book Kaleidoscope to download from Amazon for the next four days and wondered if you would be kind enough to review it and add it to your blog? With kind regards, Carole.
Kevin R. Tipple said…
Back on topic.....good stuff from Jan Christensen, president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Thank you, Marilyn, for having her on the blog today.
Jan Christensen said…
Thanks so much, Marilyn, for having me, and Kevin for stopping by and commenting. I hope this post will be helpful to lots of people.
Carol Kilgore said…
Couldn't have said it better myself. Even though I have a routine, every day's a crapshoot as to how it works out. It's important to keep one eye on your ultimate goal. That helps me on days when it doesn't look like I'll ever get to the computer to write.
Jan Christensen said…
Hi, Carol--thanks for your thoughts. Have a great writing day!
Gail Farrelly said…
Enjoyed the post, Jan. Now if only we could all produce like Mary Higgins Clark...
Hi, Jan,

Good advice! Personally, I write best early in the morning. I started the routine when I worked fulltime and kept with it after retirement. But everyone is different. Some people are sharpest in the afternoon and others write best at night. Different strokes for different folks. Makes life interesting.
Jan Christensen said…
Oh, yes, Gail--MHC is my hero and inspiration.
Jan Christensen said…
Hi, Jacqueline. Happy to see you here. Exactly--the differences make life interesting, for sure.
Madeline McEwen said…
I used to yearn for a room of my own--but that didn't work out. Then I used to long for an hour, just one a day, when I could let my creativity evolve, but somehow the daily clutter of life got in the way. Then I had the brilliant idea of carving out a sacrosanct morning [or afternoon or evening] once a week] but unless I've moved out into a nunnery I had less than a prayer and only a wisp of a wish of that coming to fruition. Finally I took a tip from my a chum--write in the one-ten-or fifteen minutes you can steal from any 24 hour period--once or twice or as often as you can squeeze it in. This works for me now that I have forced my brain to be on 'writing' or 'all the other stuff.'
Kevin R. Tipple said…
This is not aimed at anyone and is just a general comment--- Just be glad you can find any time to write and your body is working with you and you are not caring for a spouse with a terminal illness. It easily could be much worse.
Jan Christensen said…
Hi, Madeline. Glad you've found a way for you. It can be difficult. I used to come home from an eight hour day at work, and after a family dinner, close myself in my bedroom to write for one hour. Then I'd come out and talk to everyone. Two kids at home, husband, and my mother. Of couse, some days I skipped that hour, but did more often than not. That's how I wrote my first novel.

Jan Christensen said…
Kevin, you are so right. I count my blessings every day that I have time to write. I've been in the position with a child who had a near-fatal disease. Believe me, no writing got done while dealing with that. I do wish things would ease up for you and your family!
Kevin R. Tipple said…
I am bitter and very frustrated over our deal. Sometimes that leaks out. I apologize.
Jan Christensen said…
Kevin, no need to apologize. I understand, and I'm sure Marilyn does, as well.
I do understand where you're coming from, Kevin--you and your wife have had way too much to contend with.

Popular posts from this blog

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston


A World of Writing Inspiration by Maggie King