He Writes Early, Really Early
That’s right, Brown starts every morning writing from 4 am — 11 am. That’s eye-watering early. For many people, especially as winter creeps in, that time is irrationally early. Yet Brown understands that everyone is different and that’s just the way he works best. For him, it’s 4 am on the dot.
He gets up early rain or shine because he’s committed to himself that’s what he’s going to do.
Every day, he’s in the seat at 4 am, no excuses.
It’s early because Brown enjoys the quietness that exists in the morning. If you’ve ever written fairly early in the morning (not quite 4 am but perhaps 6 am), as I am now, you’ll notice how uninterrupted your flow is.
There are no doors banging, people talking, nothing going on. It’s quiet and it’s focused. It’s perfect.
That sort of quiet time for a long period doesn’t exist after 8 am when the world wakes. The time Brown needs is 4 am — 11 am, every day.
For Brown, he starts early and writes all the way through, no excuses.
He Writes Consistently
Protect your process. — Dan Brown
Brown says that one thing you must do over anything else is to protect your process. Whether your process is to get up at 4 am to write through to 11 am or it’s to get up at 11 am to write through till 4 pm. The specifics of your process do not matter, it’s the commitment to the process that does.
At the start of any novel, Brown describes how overwhelming the prospect is.
You’ve somehow got to come up with a storyline that works, characters that people love, a plot that twists and you’ve got to think differently about how to present the information to the reader.
The task of writing a novel is a hard one. The prospect is daunting.
It’s not to be taken lightly but if you think too much about it, you’ll become overwhelmed. The best way to avoid that is just to concentrate on your process. Concentrate on showing up every day, without fail.
If you protect your process, the novel takes care of itself.
He Writes For Hours Not Words
When you aim to write a number of words in a day, the process can become quite unfair. Let’s say for instance your target is 1000 words per day. Come rain or shine, you need to write 1000 words before you can say you are done for the day.
The trouble comes on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days. When you are having a great day, the words are just pouring from your mind onto the page, you are totally in your flow. On that day, when you’re in the flow state, the state we’re all trying to get into, where you feel you are floating on a cloud, you might hit your target in the first hour.
Then, technically, you are done for the day.
But this is the worst time to stop. When you get into the flow state and the words can’t stop falling onto the page, that’s the time to keep going. To write until you can’t write anymore. In this case, the 1000 words have made you stop too early.
Similarly, on a bad day, the 1000 words can be a blocker. Let’s say you’re having a totally rubbish day. You can’t focus, you don’t know where to go next, you have no idea what to write or why. But yet you know you need to write 1000 words.
You might well spend 13 hours trying to write 1000 words and come back tomorrow, reread your 1000 words and bin them.
Again, the 1000 words have caused you a problem.
Instead of aiming for a number of words aim for an amount of time. Brown does 4 am till 11 am, a solid 7 hours. For a lot of us, that’s not feasible with a full-time job. Instead, you might do 5 am till 7 am and then 7 pm till 9 pm. It doesn’t matter when or what your process is, it matters that you are consistent with it and commit to doing what you say you will.
Write for a time period, not for a word count. You’ll be more productive.
He Writes Uninterrupted
Brown writes with no distractions whatsoever. I mean the room that he writes in doesn’t even have internet. It’s all too easy when we sit down to write to think about the other 400 things you need to do today.
The internet is brilliant for indulging that thought process.
All of a sudden you’re checking your emails, ordering the food shop and doing anything but writing.
If you’ve sat down to write, that’s what you should do emplores Brown.
You don’t need anything fancy, the writing is happening your head, it shouldn’t matter what you are surrounded by, however it does matter that you write with no distractions.
Write in a space that you find quiet with few distractions. Be strict with yourself, if you’ve sat down to write, that’s exactly what you should do. Commit to write, and only write. There are other times for checking emails, researching, editing.
You said you would write, so write.
Find a space that is distraction-free and be strict with yourself.
Dan Brown is a total writing success. He’s not only made writing a fulfilling and lucrative career, more than that, but he also loves what he does.