Familiar ground for Exercise Four as Cowan instructs that I revisit Exercise One. With my distractions and procrastinations, friends and foes, all considered, I am now prepared to create and follow a structured writer’s routine. And, most importantly, write something.

However, Cowan stresses not to set your routine in unachievable terms, as the frustration of a failed day will only lead to disenchantment with your routine. Instead, he suggests one adapts their usual daily routine to include writing, making the structure much more attainable.

Below are my answers to Cowan’s questions.


Exercise Four: ‘When, Where, What? Redux’

Where will you write?

A simple answer to this question. I will write in the spare room. Having completed the previous three exercises in that space, as well as a variety of other writing tasks (job applications, scholarship statements, etc.), I appreciate the value of a quiet, distraction-free location. That it comes with a beautiful view of Bredon Hill overlooking me makes it even more ideal.

When will you write?

A more challenging question, because of the aforementioned trials and tribulations of life. I think the most sensible plan, as followed by the majority of successful author’s highlighted in Cowan’s book, is to start in the morning. As such, this will be easily adaptable. If I know there is a time I need to be somewhere of a morning, I shall wake an extra hour early and dedicate that time to writing.

Which days of the week?

Every day. I asked it of myself before, and I shall ask it of myself now.

How long will you write for?

Rather than set myself a potentially-unattainable high target, I shall set myself a minimum amount, hopefully thus encouraging a degree of pride if it is exceeded. I shall write for a minimum of an hour each day. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

What implements will you use?

I think I shall stick with my tried and true system, even if it is more time consuming. Pen and paper to draft as bad a draft as I can conceive. Word processor to hammer it into shape.

What rules will you set yourself?

No phone. This has worked for me the past days and shall continue to do so, I imagine. I shall also set myself the rule of no redrafting for the first hour, beyond the transfer from pen and paper to processor. My usual work method over the course of my degree was extremely redrafting intensive, to the point of the ludicrous. To encourage a shift in writing method, I shall devote the first hour to new material.

What excuses are you determined not to make?

Tiredness. Anything which delays the process of travelling up the stairs, sitting down, and diving straight into writing. If I can iron out that first step into writing each day, what follows should be easy. It is, after all, something I love.



Having completed this exercise a routine is now in place. The proof will be in how well it is followed in the days to come, but the determination is there. Cowan concludes this chapter by stating, ‘writers write – regularly, habitually, routinely’. For me, that time has come.


Next: Observational Journals

Find all posts in this series here.