Editor’s Note: This post, The Daily Routines of 5 Successful Writers, is by Tim Ludy, an agency owner and nDash writer. To learn more about Tim (or to have him write for your brand), check out his nDash profile page.
“Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.” – William Blake
Whether you are a freelancer, entrepreneur, CMO, or business owner, having a solid routine is key to success. This is particularly true for writers, who need hours of deep work at a time to be productive.
While most successful people have a consistent routine, no two are ever the same. Here are five daily routines from current and past successful writers. As you read, your goal shouldn’t be to pick one that you can copy but to find pieces of each that are worth experimenting with and adding to your existing routine. Only then will you discover the best way for you to write and work.
Like most successful people, Pat has a morning ritual that involves taking care of himself. He wakes up at 6 AM and spends five minutes journaling, meditating, and exercising, all before his kids are up.
The rest of his work day is compartmentalized by day of the week:
“Typically, each day of the week is assigned to a specific task, which helps me organize my thoughts around a specific function and mentally prepare for what the week is going to bring. If you’re as busy as I am, this is a pretty helpful way to organize your week!”
- Mondays – Writing days
- Tuesday – Podcasting days
- Wednesday – Meetings
- Thursday and Friday – Specific Projects
Pat goes into a lot more detail about his specific routine and the productivity tools he uses to manage it in his recent blog.
Although Benjamin Franklin was famous for his rigid schedule (pictured above) he admitted to struggling with it throughout his life:
“I found that, though it might be practicable where a man’s business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours.”
His autobiography outlines the various ways he approached “Order,” one of his thirteen virtues.
The author of Growth Hacker Marketing, Trust Me, I’m Lying, and several other books have used some version of this routine for over five years:
“I get up around 8:00am and I have one other simple rule: Do one thing in the morning before checking email. It could be showering, it could be going for a long run, it could be jotting some thoughts down in my journal, it’s usually writing. Most mornings I try to write for one to two hours before I start the rest of the day (and the to do list I made the day before).”
Ryan goes into his routine on his blog RyanHoliday.net.
The acclaimed author of various poems, plays, lectures, articles, and television scripts had the unusual habit of keeping a hotel room specifically for writing. Once in this room, she describes her routine as:
“I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon. If the work is going badly, I stay until 12:30. If it’s going well, I’ll stay as long as it’s going well. It’s lonely, and it’s marvelous. I edit while I’m working. When I come home at 2, I read over what I’ve written that day, and then try to put it out of my mind.”
Her complete interview and more insights into her routine are found in Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.
David Meerman Scott
International bestselling author and marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott, gets the nod for being the earliest riser on our list:
“When I’m not traveling, I wake up at 3:00am, check email and social feeds for a few minutes, then exercise for 90 minutes. After breakfast and a shower I go to my little hideout office in town and do long-form writing for about 3 hours. I eat lunch around 10:30, and after lunch is meetings, phone calls, interviews, and short form content like blog posts. I’m in bed by 8:30.”
His interview for The Writer Files goes more into his workflow, tools, and creative approach.