Finding Your Best Way to Write

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As the seasons change, I’m reminded that when writers are most productive can change too. Our lives change, our schedules change, our responsibilities change. Hell, our brains change. What works best for you during the summer might not work at all in the fall and winter. Or switching to a new method might break you out of a rut. Knowing what works for you matters, especially if you’re planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year! And if you are planning on doing NaNoWriMo, that quantity of writing provides an excellent opportunity to experiment.

So how do you know when and what works best for you?

There are no shortcuts to this, I’m afraid! You have to try it to find out. Track the time you spend, when you spend it, how many words you produce, and how you feel about those words. You’ll probably want to give yourself a few days of trying something to see how it works for you, because the first day of a new system or schedule is always weird. Only alter one thing at a time–I suggest trying a different writing schedule first.

Here are some things to try, to see what works for you.


Look at all the time you have available. Consider temporarily changing your wake-up time, your bedtime, your lunch break habits, your Disney+ habit, and any other “normally I do X now” times that you can move around. Schedule a particular time of day to be your designated writing time. Write at that time every day. Remember that this might change depending on the season, and on the darkest days of the year, a happy light is your friend!

Try writing in a block of at least 2 solid hours with minimal breaks.

Try writing in 25-minute intervals with breaks according to the Pomodoro Method.

Try writing in snippets throughout the day instead of one big chunk of time. Uninstall social media apps and write on your phone when you would normally check Instagram, or carry a notebook with you.

Try burst writing. Don’t write for a couple of days, then go to a coffee shop or turn off your phone and close your door and neglect everything else for a 4-6 hour block of writing.


Outline the whole story first.

Outline the scene you’re about to write.

Don’t outline at all.

Write out of sequence. Focus on the scene you’re most excited about first.

Write multiple stories at once. Switch between them when you get bored. Try a few sentences and if you aren’t excited about what you’re writing, move on to the next one. (Note: this method only works if things eventually get finished!)


Write longhand, then transcribe it later. (Remember to count transcription time.)

Try dictation. Give the free trial a shot.

Gamify it with 4theWords.

Write in a coffee shop, write lying on the couch, write at a desk, write in a museum. Try different locations.

Write with friends, or find a local writing meet-up (NaNoWriMo will offer several).

Write totally alone.

Write with strangers nearby, without interacting with them.

Try blocking the internet and social media while you write.

(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the contact form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

This newsletter of markets updated in October is going out a little late, thanks to Halloween shenanigans. Other than that, I’ve been writing on my WiP. It’s kind of boring giving status updates on writing a novel, right? Because mostly it’s just, “Yup, still writing a novel. Recently researched skullcaps, skullstripping (actual medical terminology!), and the decay rate of brains.” You know, the usual. Also, turns out brains liquify fairly quickly because they are already so liquidy.

I’m over 25% of my wordcount goal for the novel, though. And I think the plot’s about in the same place. Hurray! 1/4 done!

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

What is Your Halloween Writer Type:

Wanting a Beta Reader:

Write the Thing:

The Ecology of Worldbuilding:

Marathon Lessons:

Top 10 Twitter Tips for Authors:

How to Make Twitter Suck Less:

How to Leave Twitter for Mastodon:

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

World Fantasy Convention ($125), Nov 3-6, 2022:

The Nebula Conference is over for 2022, but purchasing a membership now ($75) still gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events:

Featured Market

The Quantum-Steampunk Short-Story Contest wants quantum steampunk, pays total awards worth $4,500.

Entries must satisfy two requirements: First, stories must be written in a steampunk style, including by taking place at least partially during the 1800s. Transport us to Meiji Japan; La Belle Époque in Paris; gritty, smoky Manchester; or a camp of immigrants unfurling a railroad across the American west. Feel free to set your story partially in the future; time machines are welcome.

Second, each entry must feature at least one quantum technology, real or imagined. Real and under-construction quantum technologies include quantum computers, communication networks, cryptographic systems, sensors, thermometers, and clocks. Experimentalists have realized quantum engines, batteries, refrigerators, and teleportation, too. Surprise us with your imagined quantum technologies (and inspire our next research-grant proposals).

Quantum-Steampunk Short-Story Contest

Basics: quantum steampunk stories, up to 3,000 words, grand prize $1,500 Visa certificate plus other whimsical categories up to $4,500 total, reprint acceptability unspecified, due 1/15/23.


Additional details:

Market List Updates

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