My Writing Routine with Ebony McKenna

We invited author Ebony McKenna today. And she is discussing her writing routine. 

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Ask a dozen writers how they write and you’ll get a dozen different answers.
Some love writing by hand, with a pen. On an actual piece of paper. Others need to get out of the house, so they go to a cafe and write there.

Some are busy holding down a day job so they do all their writing at night, when the family is asleep.
All I know is that every writer needs to find a way to write, preferably every day, that works for them. When they stick to it, after a while, they end up producing a completed manuscript.

My ‘plan’ for want of a better word, is to get my son off to school and husband off to work, then plant myself in front of the computer at home. The earlier in the day the better.

I then stay there until I’ve written a thousand words.
Well, that’s the plan.

What usually happens is I turn the computer on, get distracted with facebook, check my emails, get up and make another coffee, come back, open the manuscript file and stare blankly at the screen.
A fair amount of private self-loathing then takes place. My thoughts drift along the lines of, “This is rubbish. I can’t even put my Englishing together today. Oh would you look outside? It’s sunny. Have I watered the plants?”

Sometimes, if I’m extra extra focused, I do manage to get some words down.
Those first couple of hundred words are the hardest. The next couple of hundred aren’t much easier. Then I walk around the kitchen bench a few times to get my steps up. Is that the postie? I’d better check if there’s any mail.

The cat needs a cuddle too.
Then I push myself to write another hundred or so words. And then I’m half way there and I start to find my groove and before I know it I’m at 700 words, so really, if I can just get another page and a bit done, I’ll get to that magical 1,000.

Why 1,000?
It’s an arbitrary number,  but every time I plan a new book, I think of it in easy blocks of words. 1,000 per day, Monday to Friday, means 5,000 words per week, so after 10 or 12 weeks, I’ll have something resembling a first draft.
Not that it works out like that at all. In August this year I’d written 30,000 words of a new manuscript. Now it’s October, I’ve just crept over 40,000 words.
I would have finished it by now if I’d actually stuck to my plan!

You would think that by my 10th or so manuscript I’d be so much more efficient by now. That I’d know what I’m doing.
That I’d know how to write!

But I’m not. I’m still figuratively wading through mayonnaise.
Which can be heartbreaking and frustrating.
So I reach out to my writer friends and discover that we’re all having our good days and bad. Writing up a storm then deleting whole chapters that simply don’t fit.

Wondering why the story won’t simply come together the way we thought it would in our minds.
That’s something I have in common with heaps of writers. We may have completely different places to write - yet we often end up in the same muddle again and again.

And yet, somehow, it does finally all come together. That’s when I look back and think, “why didn’t I just write it like that in the first place?”

Robyn & The Hoodettes: The Outlaw of Folktales in a Young Adult Fairytale Romance

A thrilling retelling of the Robin Hood adventure with a fun gender flip.

When tax collectors raid her village, headstrong peasant Robyn vows to take everything back.
Her righteous spirit lands her on the 'wrongteous' side of the law.

Attempts to fix things only makes life worse as Robyn, and her best friend Marion the blacksmith's son, fall deeper into trouble . . .
and a little bit in love.


  1. Writers sure are all different and have different ways of writing. I enjoyed learning about your process, Ebony.

    1. I'll let you in on a secret - I didn't do my routine the right way yesterday! I wrote the article first and then mucked about for ages before I panic-wrote about 800 words.

  2. "Wading through mayonnaise"! Hah! Love that line :) And it is so very true that we all have our different methods--some a little more productive than others.

    1. It's a great visual, isn't it? I love it so much.

  3. We definitely are different! I don't have issues with the blank page, but that revising stage is my nightmare! :)

    1. Oh this is funny! I love it when I'm ready for revisions, because the words are all there and I get to play with them! Yep, everyone sure is different!

  4. One of the things I love about writers and writing is how every one of us uses a different process while coming up with a finished product. Some of the processes are almost alike, but not none are identical. And none of us will produce the same story, even if we begin with the same idea. Creativity is a wondrous thing!

    1. It sure is. I tell you what's 'the same' though, and that's how so many of us writers doubt ourselves. (And then I'm likely to say, 'not even my paranoia is original!')

  5. Sticking to our plans isn't always easy. It's good you have one though.

    1. Oh yeah, the plan! That thing!
      It is good though - when I go way off on a tangent, I have a reasonable idea of what I need to come back to.

  6. Under the circumstances, Ebony, sounds like you're doing very well. Life gets in the way, but that only gives us for fuel for our stories. Love the cover.

    1. Thank you so much. I adore my covers (I'm so biased!). Life sure does get in the way, but I figure as long as I don't take too much of a break, and keep plotting and writing away, I'll get one more book done.

  7. Thanks for sharing your process. I tend to hit it in the late afternoon after I've had dinner. A lot of my writing is boiling down to making sure I get to my computer and START writing...from there it flows smooth. haha

  8. I relate to the distractions and the self-loathing that accompanies it. Very nicely written. Thanks.

  9. I get distracted too- not just by the internet, but the outdoors. I enjoyed learning about Ebony's system. Love the cover of her book and it sounds interesting too. Wishing her the best of luck!

  10. I think all of us are victims of distraction. Nice cover!

  11. Thanks for sharing Ebony's writing routine. Parts of that sound so familiar, especially getting easily distracted :-)