If I don’t have a freelance editing client in the queue, I write early. If I’m working on a project, I like to start around 6:30-7:00 in the morning and carry on through 10:00 or 11:00. I’ll pause and eat breakfast somewhere in there, but when I’m in the zone, I like to capture the lightning while the thunder still rumbles. I don’t eat or drink at my computer because I worry about spills and water rings on the dining room table where I work, but I don’t need food to be productive. What I do need is music. My Bluetooth headphones are one of my prized possessions for this reason. I can’t hear my family over my music, so I’ll usually loop the same song over and over until I get the scene I’m working on right—or right enough. This differs a little depending on what I’m writing, though. For a novel, I might change the song every scene or character POV, but if I’m writing a short piece, I have no problem playing the same song into the ground. It’s not even about the words, not really, but the beat and the overall repetition. I like slipping into a productive, hypnotic headspace when I work.
Because my home is open concept, I don’t have my own office or room with an imposing, stately desk to call my own. I have a spot at the end of the dining room table, a placemat to set my laptop on, my wireless mouse, and my phone acting as a hotspot—it’s tough getting internet in the middle of the country! The views are wonderful, though. Picturesque and full of life, I can always find inspiration when I look out at the sky or at the whitetail deer frolicking in the fields. When I’m working, though, I try not to get too distracted. No Twitter breaks if I can help it. Most of my idea-generating happens in dreams late at night or early morning. I’ll suddenly have a flash-bang idea that I just need to write. The muse nearly pulls me out of bed some mornings! I like to take notes on my phone so I won’t forget anything, and sometimes I’ll even start my piece in my notes app so I can email the draft to my laptop for later. For longer works, I like to write in Google Docs, but if it’s a short flash, I’ll write in Pages. These little scraps and notes I send to myself are rough. They’re a few sloppy sentences or a couple of rogue words. When I get to the computer, I’ll expand. Make a character, a setting, fill in the gaps. Write a few sentences, tinker, and then write more. On an ideal day, I’ll get my words down, the scene out of my head and onto the page (in a very rough way, at least) and be out of my chair before noon. If I don’t have to go grocery shopping or to an appointment that day, I’ll watch some TV to decompress after a writing binge. After a quick lunch, I’ll read to refill the well. Reading is the most important part of my process. Reading centers me, educates me, and inspires me to do better. To elevate my own craft. And it’s fun! I read very broadly, usually not in the genre I’m currently writing (to prevent overlap and burnout). Again, on an ideal day, I’ll read from around 1:00 in the afternoon to 4:00. After dinner on these kinds of days, I’ll edit. Sometimes I’ll edit what I worked on that day, but mostly I’ll jump between my unpublished, unfinished documents. This way, the work stays fresh and relevant. I don’t like to work after it gets dark, and I definitely don’t work after 7:00 in the evening. I don’t have any children or a spouse, so I’m able to set my own writing hours and boundaries. Stopping when it gets dark gives my eyes and mind much-needed breaks. I may be daydreaming about characters and plots as I watch TV on the couch, but I won’t write again until the following morning. Consistency is crucial for my well-being.
Jared Povanda is an internationally published writer and freelance editor from upstate New York. His work can be found in Pidgeonholes, Maudlin House, Ellipsis Zine, Splonk, Bending Genres, Hobart, and Mythic Picnic, among others. Find him @JaredPovanda and at