The writing routines of top writing coach K.M. Weiland

K.M. Weiland is one of the best known writing mentors and coaches in the world. An internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, Weiland also mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors and writes historical and speculative fiction too. How does she get down to write and what processes does she use? She talks exclusively to the Prolifiko blog.

K.M. Weiland

K.M. Weiland

Q: How would you describe your writing personality? For example, are you a creature of daily habit or a binge writer? Do you only write in silence or only in Starbucks? Tell us more about your routine…

KM: I’m naturally a pretty structured person, and I bring that to my writing.

For the most part, I like writing at the same time of day and in the same environment.

Right now, I get my daily two hours of writing out of the way first thing in the morning. I write in my office with the door closed, the phone turned off, and the Internet closed down (or at least I try).

I like to have music in the background, preferably something as epic and energetic as possible.

Q: When you sit down to write, do you have a set goal in mind for that session? For example, to write a certain number of words, for a certain amount of time – or to reach a milestone? Could you please give us an example.

KM: I’ve always liked time goals more than word goals. I sit down every day to write for two hours, without putting too much pressure on myself to achieve a particular number of words.

However, if I’m going through a slump where I’m struggling with distraction or procrastination, I will initiate a personal challenge, in which I try to write 300 words every 15 minutes.

This isn’t so large a goal that it’s not easily doable, but to achieve it, I have to stay focused and keep typing without stopping to question every word choice.

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Q: How has your writing process or routine changed over time and what have you learned along the way?

KM: My writing routine has changed surprisingly little over the years. I still write for two hours every day, still warm up by reading the previous day’s writing, still listen to movie scores.

Really, the only noticeable thing that’s changed is that I do less warming up. I used to start out with a writing journal and research review. But these days, I generally just jump right in.

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see other people making in terms of how they approach their writing?  

KM:

#1: Failing to properly structure the story.

#2: Failing to create an engaging character with an engaging voice.

#3: Failing to show more than is told.

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Q: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given and why? What’s the piece of writing advice that you give most often?

KM: The one that comes to mind right now is the admonition that if I didn’t take my writing seriously, no one else would.

This was particularly valuable in combating the guilt I occasionally felt for taking the time to make writing a priority.

But once I realized I was the only one who could make it a priority, I got serious and started making it clear (as tactfully as possible) to others that my writing time was not to be taken lightly. That has made all the difference.

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K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY, NIEA, and Lyra Award-winning and internationally published author of Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

About the author: Co-founder and writer in residence at Prolifiko | Ex-philosophy lecturer | maker of unpopular short comedy films.