What habits, routines help you create your best work as a writer?

For many years at Poynter, we have studied the writing process -- the steps we believe that all writers at some point will have to master.

That does not mean we are trying to crank out robotic writers of the Stepford variety. Quite the contrary. We recognize that each writer adopts and adapts a process and acts it out within a wide range of eccentric, idiosyncratic behaviors.

Let's take an old sports columnist I knew from North Carolina. You'd see him come into the office carrying two bottles of Tab, which he would place on his desk. He would open his desk drawer and put on a pair of airport-style noise blockers; and then take out a large belt, designed to lock him into his chair until he finished his column.

Think of your quirky habits. Are you a smoker, talker, walker, snacker, drinker, pisser, puzzler? Do you have a set of magic rituals that get you started, or pull you through to the end? How many times do you check your cell phone, Romenesko or your status updates?

And here's the key question: Do those habits help you create your best work? Or do they get in the way? And, if so, what can you do about them? We addressed these questions during this week's writing chat, which you can replay here:

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    Roy Peter Clark

    Roy Peter Clark has taught writing at Poynter to students of all ages since 1979. He has served the Institute as its first full-time faculty member, dean, vice-president, and senior scholar.


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