People are oddly curious about how a writer actually goes about writing, so I wasn't all that surprised when @NinaCamero asked “when do you find is the best time of day to write. Do you have any rituals? Music? Specific place?”
Because writing is my job – and has been for quite a few years – I try to make sure that I spend the working day writing, and the rest of my time being a husband and dad, not hiding away in my office, using work as an excuse to avoid parenting and domestic chores (easily done). My office is on the side of my house and does not connect to it directly, so that my kids don’t bimble in when they feel like it. Also this way, I can’t hear when they’re upset, angry or annoying their mother, which is the biggest distraction because I want to get involved or intervene.
Before I had an office (which is a very recent addition), I’d work the whole morning in Starbucks or similar, wearing headphones, listening to music – either music I know very well or stuff without words eg. Bach/Beethoven/Brahms, Scott Joplin or Jazz Quintets, or Steve Reich. Or music to get me in the mood for Bluestone 42 – I have a playlist on Spotify that helps me with that. I use a MacBook Pro, like virtually everyone else in this business, and switched to using Final Draft last year for Bluestone 42 having used only Word for over a decade.
I tend to work better in the mornings than the afternoons, especially when it comes to writing new scenes and new dialogue. Often in the afternoon, I go for a swim or workout at the gym, since otherwise I’m just hunched over a laptop all day, which isn’t a good idea. I’m normally quite productive from 5pm ‘til 7pm. Then I’m useless ‘til 10pm. I do stay up late when things are really busy and I have deadlines – and can usually keep going ‘til 2am, especially if I’m rewriting rather than writing. But I try not to work late two nights in a row. And I try not work at weekends. If things are really busy, I might work a couple of hours on Saturday, but rarely. And, being a Christian, I will do anything to avoid working on Sundays which I try to take as a day of rest, church and family - unless obliged to since that’s the day of shooting/recording. (I could point you to Bible references if you’d like to know how that works, but I suspect you’re not that curious. Which is fair enough).
That's Not The Half of It
But this is only really how I spend less than half my time. The other half is spent in meetings, often with Richard Hurst, storylining, re-storyling, going through notes, talking, talking, talking about Bluestone 42 and other projects… And then meetings for other things. Plus doing my accounts and VAT returns.
That’s it really. That's how I write. Not that interesting or surprising, but some people like to know. You should do what works for you - and enables you to keep up obligations to family, society and the world in general, since that's where the stories are all coming from.
If anyone has any questions about writing, comedy, sitcom or any of that stuff, tweet me at @sitcomgeek.