Fictionistas Office Hours take place on the last Tuesday of every month, starting at 7am EST and running throughout the day… or night, depending on where you reside on this little globe of ours. Come and go as you please. It’s an opportunity to meet other fiction writers on Substack, ask and answer questions about writing fiction, and share ideas about how to improve the community. Here are a couple discussion starters if you’re feeling shy:
What does your writing routine look like?
What’s your biggest writing “win” so far?
Don’t have a big win? Share a small win that had a major impact!
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Hello! Since I am a bit shy, I'll use one of the discussion starters: What does your writing routine look like?
Personally, I do not have much of a routine when it comes to writing, which may be why I never finish any of my novels. By serialising my work monthly on Substack, I hope to build a good routine, but I'd like to hear from others as well!
My biggest writing win this month has to be having an article featured in The Writer magazine and the headline on the cover! “Writing in the Twilight Zone
Curio Fiction: What it is and how to write it.”
I’m still geeking out! It’s available digitally now and should hit newsstands in a couple weeks! This is my first time being a freelance writer and how it came about is just as crazy.
Hey Fictionistas! Thanks for these discussion ideas, Probably the best input I can give for any writer's routine is simply a link to some more writing retreat opportunities, in the US and worldwide.
The Res Artis site (link below) had many retreat search filters by date, place, etc and often has some really interesting and otherwise hard to find retreats and events. I don't know them personally, but I gather that they collect from a wide variety of independent organizations and events. So if you'd like to get out of the house to combine writing and travel, you might find something here.
My routine is to get up at 3am. My brain sometimes takes another 45 minutes of tea before functioning, but at least I get a good chunk of time in before the Day Job. I need to keep working on efficiency though. Time does not always = productivity. Sigh.
Small win of sorts: My current serial fiction has an odd framing device where I treat it like the walkthrough (with script) of a fighting game, to help sell that I put together a lengthy post of win quotes for each character when facing a specific other character. It was quite the undertaking to do in addition to writing each chapter, since it required writing 196 lines of dialogue that are each supposed to stand alone. Nice to know I'm able to pull off extras like this.
Has anyone been playing around with the Substack feature for hidden posts? Want to try messing with it myself. Or just any unusual formatting for fiction that Substack has helped enable.
My small win is that I've published 3 short stories on substack, and a few folk have actually read them 🙂. Trying for weekly on my non fiction and maybe monthly on short fiction. Started a novel years ago but it's been sitting for at least 12 years because life. Maybe I'll dust it off when I get back into things...😉
I have a question about finding readers. Have any of you found success in online communities or other methods in connection with an audience more closely? How has that worked or not worked for you?
My wins are that I've published three short stories in gay literary journals, self-published a memoir, and "published" my novel on Substack. Just continuing the search for a new agent now.
Not a giant "win" and I actually don't think about wins that much, but I just published my 33rd story here on Substack and that's been a lot of fun.
I don't have a routine exactly. Sometimes, it's 11pm. Midnight. Sometimes, it's 5am, sometimes (not too often), it's 3am. My schedule varies quite a bit because I sleep when I'm tired and get up when I'm not. Not conducive to a real job I know, but fortunately I don't have one of those.
This is unrelated to the three questions, but I’m wondering who in this community would be down to have a “tag” or “mention” system to workshop stories? For instance, one of us posts a new story or chapter, mentions/tags people from the community in the post or in Notes, and then people can comment on what worked, what didn’t, and what questions arose.
I think this would be a good way to for us to workshop while getting our stories out there. And I’m sure many of us would be happy if someone we mentioned/tagged, cross-posted the story to get more people involved in the feedback. I realize this wouldn’t work for all stories, especially first drafts, but for later drafts that we’re comfortable sharing with the public.
My writing routine has been a bit of a mess lately. I don't write every day, which is normal, but what I try to do is write intentionally. If I have an essay or short story, I will focus on that for several days, write it, edit and then schedule for posting. Then I won't really write again until I have something I know I want to write. However, lately the intention is getting harder. I find myself writing a couple paragraphs, getting distracted and it's taking longer. I'm doing a lot of context switching these days, spread too thin, etc., and I'm hoping to rein myself in and be more disciplined.
My win is both a writing and a small substack win. I do a daily post, where most of my audience I brought with me from facebook, and a mostly promotional newsletter that I brought over from mail chimp. I have done a good job of keeping these subscribers, but not growing them. This month I started putting a short story in my mystery series up as I write it, scene by scene in the daily newsletter. (will publish as ebook once done.) And this has increased opening clicks a bit, but most successful, is that I mentioned that I was doing this in my monthly newsletter and about 50 of these subscribers came over and subscribed to the daily newsletter, which was my first spurt of growth since I started a year ago. So I saw this as a win (both as a way to get my short stories out but also increase engagement.)
Hi from Chicago! I generally try to write in the mornings, but it can vary. I work for the Chicago Cubs during the baseball season and work mainly the days games. My typical writing time on a game day obviously won't happen. I do try to bang out at least 100 words when I get home. Said wordage might not see the light of day beyond what's on my laptop, but it's something.
I'm fairly new to this 'I'm a writer' thing, so my big win so far is realizing/coming up with goals for me over the next year or two. I'm looking into taking some sort of online writing course (I REALLY like UCSD's course, I think it'd be a good "fit", but it's a tad out of my price range.) and I'd love to be able to go to one of those writing conferences I see advertised in the writing magazines I subscribe to.
So far I've written a couple of short stories, one flash fiction story, working on two books that both originally started out as NaNoWriMo entries and when the mood strikes, I do 100 word prompts.
I admire those who are able to write in a disciplined way, but alas I've tried and failed. Today I'm calling my routine 'bubble writing' (did I just coin a term?). Ideas bubble up and I write them down. The big bubbles turn out to be the best. They are full of passion, creativity and are self-motivating. Sure, they pop big when they hit the surface and some smell funky at first, but I'm onto my third book with my bubble writing non-routine.
My 'win' is being halfway through (24 chapters) posting the entirety of my first book on Substack. Please check it out!
I rarely check in, but wish you well on your projects. This is a book promotion year for me. My goals, increase sales & make money to publish the next novel.
Hey, my first comment. I hope you'll indulge me with the following question: how do you tackle the first big review and edit for a longer writing project. Here's the context: almost five years ago I participated in NaNoWriMo. I have an idea for a SF novel (possibly a trilogy) where I developed some back story, characters and some general plot ideas before the start, so I had some (not a lot) but some world building in place. I powered through, focusing on hitting the word count and probably generated a lot of filler/stuff to be cut. I also used the technical that Frederik Pohl used in Gateway: interspersing other bits of color and backstory in between chapters or sections of the novel in progress. I purposely wrote a bunch of crappy stuff at times in order to keep the flow going. In the end, I feel like I've written maybe one third of a novel, so a decent start.
Now the problem: I'm faced with a huge amount of material to sort through, review, edit, cull and possible rework. A really zero level draft or shitty first draft hides in a binder, taunting me.
So my question: is there a recommended or often useful way to take a jumbled up manuscript in progress and try to turn it into something readable?
It's almost been five years and I'd like to get back onto this novel and finish it some day but I kind of feel paralyzed.
win? getting to work with Anton Bogaty on this, which is not exactly fiction but highly troperiffic
My writing routine is pretty straightforward—write when I feel like :P
I have a day job, so I usually get up at 4am to write, or weekends. I’ve made significant progress on my fantasy novel this way. But I don’t write daily at all.
My writing week begins on Sunday continuing through Friday. I've found that after 3pm each day is best. I get maybe half of my story down on paper, then as I type it up, the rest of it comes together. Editing is an ongoing process up to publishing by Friday midday. I have two ongoing serialized fiction stories alternating with other fiction and non-fiction pieces.. A big win for me - my Stack is growing and I'm almost 50 stories in. I suspect the bigger win is that on Substack, I've come across authors of stories who inspire me and make me sit back and say - "Wow, that's good! How do they do that?".
I also write in the morning, between 7 and 8 roughly. But I also keep one day a week, usu Sundays, writing-free. I just recently started writing regularly, feeling inspired, and seeing a horizon to my writing passion. What I don’t want to happen is to get this creativity burned out under the (unnecessary) pressure of setting deadlines and target metrics. On Substack I‘m still pretty new, but I guess getting closer to an idea of what my blog could offer. I write lit fiction, mind you, and based in Europe. A bit of an outsider if I look around here. Thanks for setting up this discussion threads!
I have a question:
What software/app do you guys write on?
I reserve the first few hours after breakfast and COFFEEE for writing. The important thing is to write when my energy is high, resolutely resisting all other demands on my time. I schedule everything I can for the afternoons. (Question: why does doing laundry seem so seductive when I should be working on my fiction? Is it Nefarious Procrastination? Nah...cant be.)
Another thing is writing down my thoughts as soon as I can, after an incident or experience. I try to grab the impressions while they're still fresh.
Finally, It's important to remind myself that what I'm writing matters.
My routine is every morning for an hour and then edit at night after work. My big win is finally getting my first book formatted and ready to publish on Amazon and IngramSpark! Small win is meeting so many awesome folks here on Substack :)
I write almost every day. I use Scrivener to write my stuff and "compile" into Word quite often. I am part of a critique group at the Pearl Buck Foundation. We meet monthly on Zoom. This forces me to have someting of reasonable quality as I do not want to have a bunch of people reading complete junk and wasting their valuable time.
My small win was to write my first story for the Fictionistas prompt. Here it is if anyone is interested: https://scottocamb.substack.com/p/where-am-i
I’ve been posting two books of mine for paying subscribers, a thriller prison novel, and my NYC Covid 2020 ‘fictional memoir.’ A few recent posts are free to hook readers in. But I confess I haven’t been writing any new fiction lately; it’s all been nonfiction diary entries on my other stack about my dad’s final days with his cancer battle.
Here’s the fictional memoir:
It helps me to have a rigid routine. I’m at my desk by 9 am and write until lunch, take a break, then either write or do adjacent work (emails, etc) until dinner time. I like to walk in the mornings before I write to clear my head.
One of the biggest, most influential wins of my writing career was when I was in 7th grade. I submitted a Dave Barry-inspired humor column to the school newspaper. Usually, only upperclassmen (9th grade and up) were given regular columns, but Mr. LaChiusa took a chance on me, because he liked my writing so much. It was a confirmation I was on the right track and I’ll always be grateful to him. The column was well received, though I bet it’d make me cringe hard looking at it today!
I'm taking care of a newborn and two little guys, plus working so my writing routine lately is on my phone in google docs when i'm out and about and then in a furious flash in the two hours after their bedtime before i then have to go to bed haha
Hmm... I feel like I'm turning the biggest writing win question into an internal philosophical debate, which I'll do my best to keep off of the screen for now haha, but...
What came to mind was that I had two book-length works represented by an agent for about eighteen months (though he was only active on them for about six of those months), and from that I received a really thoughtful rejection from David Ebershoff, Executive Editor of Random House and author of The Danish Girl, which included among other kind things: "I can see why you're excited about his work—he's a significant talent, fearless, natural, and hard to classify."
And while it embarrasses me a bit to admit that a rejection that's nearly a decade old still fuels me, or, rather, continues to validate this pursuit, it's true. It does.
And this is where the philosophical debate bit rears its head... because since then I have of course sought after and accomplished different goals in the literary world, I've started and finished projects, etc. So why am I attributing so much value to something like that? Is it because in my brain traditional publishing--and its world of gatekeepers--still registers as "making it"?
I don't know. But I do remember the day my then-agent passed that along. He was bummed. A rejection was a rejection. Me? I was ecstatic.
As for a small win, as I've been serializing my novel on Substack (the very one that Ebershoff was referencing), I've also been providing 10-15 minute audio commentaries for each installment, and while it was daunting at first talking into my phone on the floor of my kiddo's room (most soundproofed room of the apartment), it has actually been quite fun, and seems to be enhancing the reading experience.
So yeah, hooray for trying new things!
I wish I could say I have a writing routine. But with all the things I have to do, it's hard for any day to have a routine of any sort (plus I am easily distractable). What I do like to do is try to get some writing done in the evenings, usually after midnight. Right now I am in revision hell so it's sometimes hard to get motivated, plus I have to write a lot for work so that also can get in the way. I do like to participate in writing prompt parties (both here on Fictionistas and through Stop Writing Alone (https://stopwritingalone.substack.com/) because that ensures I keep writing new fiction at least a couple times a month.
Modern Problem when it comes to writing:
I got addicted to chess.com during covid. Now, when I sit down to write it's a struggle to not click on the chess.com icon and play chess instead of what I intended to sit down at the computer for. I can't tell you how much writing time has been translated to online chess. It makes me wonder if I should go old school and write longhand so that there is no viable way I can feed the temptation of play instead of work. But then again, I grew up composing on a keyboard and longhand is so slow I can't keep up with my thoughts as I write. Or maybe that's just a cop out too. Thoughts? Others have a similar story?
I’m going to weigh in on the question of routine. In recent weeks I’ve been waking at 5am and, if I’m bursting with ideas, I grab some cereal and write - either pouring these ideas into an app I use (Story plotter) or if it moves on my novel I put them into Word. If I’m not ready, I’ll pick up a writing prompt and get my brain and fingers writing a stream of consciousness for 100-300 words. These early mornings are my most productive tbh.
I then find one or two hour slots in the day to be disciplined. These normally add up to three or four hours.
My biggest "win" is the fact that I've actually put out 133 posts since I've started. I write long fiction, so I break the stories into sections that I put out once a week. And I'm also writing a new serial novel. I have 7 short stories that make up 37 posts. I have my first serial novel that has 37 posts as well. My Scribbles, a sort of journal I write once in a while, has 28 posts. I would've never thought, going into this, that I'd have that many posts, or that I'd have 170 followers after a year, so I think I'm doing okay. I could use a few more readers. I mean, it looks like I'm not going to get my 200 readers goal by June 2, but hey, don't sweat the small stuff.
My writing routine involves writing down random thoughts into a semi-organized Notes file. I will go through the file to see what relates or what are just one-liners. The ones that relate turn into an essay or a series or a short-form post. The one-liners are just that. They turn into Notes or Instagram posts I compile into a monthly Miscellaneous Nonsense post.
This helps me avoid writers block and keeps me posting 3-4 times a week.
Kinda late to the party here.
But, my writing routine is "Write in between everything else." Which means I write in-between work, I write scenes, outlines or dialogue on my phone, I write on the...uh...throne. Basically it's kinda random and thus is not a routine at all lol.
My biggest writing win? The fact that I'm still writing my novel and loving it. When I was younger, I always got bored, lost interest and just never finished any creative endeavour I started. With this one, I'm well on my way to finishing it which is a major win for me.
A contrarian approach for me to answer What does your writing routine look like? I do write everyday, but I recently found out, when at my girlfriends house, was that as she did things around the house I brought my laptop to the kitchen table and started writing. I'm not sure if it was because she was keeping herself busy, but somehow it motivated me to continue to write. I was waiting for her to ask me to help with something or start talking to me, so in a way I was under a little pressure. I was surprised because I wrote fast and got more than I would've thought done.
Current win: I just finished writing a novel.
That's always a cool feeling ;)
I don’t have a routine, I don’t know if I’m a writer, even, as I miss the urge, so many writers talk about.
I gathered a few poems and two short tales and published a tine book 3 years ago. It was a vanity book but I’m proud I had the initiative.
Now here, surrounded by brilliant people, I’m in heaven! Just want to read the good stuff and maybe timidly start to write again.
Absolute techno-phobic, I have no clue how to make the most of this magazine App. I’m a subscriber and that’s all I know.
Would love to show you one of my short tales, if I’m entitled to do so.