Essay: How to Develop a Daily Writing Process, in Ten Easy Steps

Nov 17, 2016

Milwaukee is home to many great writers, from novelists to screenwriters, to bloggers. Lake Effect essayist Meagan Schultz says you, too, could live the life of a writer if you follow her step-by-step guide.

1. Always be prepared. Of course this means having a perfectly clean writing space. If you must spend an hour sorting through old letters, arranging your stationery by size, color and purpose, or organizing your pen drawer, so be it. It will be impossible to work with that chaos surrounding you.

2. If you don’t have everything you need on your desk to write well (e.g. a candle, an inspiring quote, a lucky mug, framed pictures of loved ones, your writing talisman), now might be a great time to dash to TJ Maxx to find what you need. (And you might as well get an extra jar of olive oil, some pillowcases and a copy of Brown Bear Brown Bear while you’re at it, you are already there).

3. Quickly scan your text messages to be sure you’ve replied to everyone from yesterday, you don’t want to leave anyone hanging. Same goes for your email. Allow yourself three minutes to skim The Daily Skimm for your news recap… writers are not ignoramuses; we need to stay informed.

4. Log on to Facebook. Disregard your friends’ updates. You’re really only checking in with your writing gurus to see if they’ve doled any writerly advice overnight. Give yourself a five-minute warning on this one. Only make exception to said five minutes for articles that promise the secret to writing a successful blog, novel, memoir, short story, or query letter. (especially if the secret can be told in less than ten steps!) Count this read as partial writing time because your writing career will surely prosper because of it.

5. You’re probably half way through your coffee by now. Time to pee. You don’t want a full bladder distracting you from your masterpiece.

6. Close down all other applications you have open on your computer. Oh wait, you find you were in the middle of a rug search on Overstocked? Just finish that already. You’ll keep returning to it otherwise.

7. Move the mouse over the dock at the bottom of your screen. Just one final check to see that you’ve cleared all the alarming red dots – so no new emails, texts or instant messages have arrived since you last checked. Once you’ve confirmed you have a clear social slate, move on!

8. Wait, was that a hunger pang? Don’t even THINK about writing on an empty stomach.

9. While you’re waiting for last night’s leftovers to reheat, you might as well finish up the breakfast dishes. What’s the difference whether you do them now or later? They’re not going to wash themselves, you know.

10. And finally, once you’re seated and sated, your desk is clean, and your bladder is empty, open up a new document or a fresh page in your journal and just get going. You are absolutely ready now. Nothing stopping you.

Unless, of course, your coffee is cold.

Lake Effect essayist Meagan Schultz is a writer who lives on the east side of Milwaukee. She is a contributing writer for MKE Moms Blog and has had her work published on Brain, Child Magazine’s blog, and elsewhere.