I'm a Bestselling Author. Here's My Daily Routine.
Well, hello there, beautiful! If you're new here, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Alisa, and I'm a writer. I've been at this a while, first as a staff writer for The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, then as a novelist and memoirist, published by St. Martins Press, Little Brown & Co., and, as of April 11, 2023, Thomas & Mercer.
In this journey I've met some great writers - from sports journalist Michael Holley (heart of a poet, great wordsmith) to novelist Terry McMillan (first contemporary novelist who made me feel seen). And one thing I've noticed is productive writers have consistent routines.
While the word "routine" might feel stodgy, I believe it's the bridge that helps creative people go from dreaming to doing. Here's what my own daily routine looks like.
First Things First
I wake up at about 7:30 a.m. every day. I don't need an alarm. My body just naturally wakes around this time, give or take 30 minutes.
I shower, get dressed, and make my bed.
Working from home, I could just write in my pajamas in a messy room. But writing is a profession, so I act like it. The clothing transition separates my work life from my home life. I wear my usual rural hiker-cowgirl stuff. Nothing fancy. I don't wear jeans if I'm sitting and typing for many hours, as the stiffness of denim can cut off circulation. Jeggings and leggings are my go-tos, with comfy t-shirts, sweatshirts and button-downs. Nothing fancy. Just not pajamas.
Mental and Physical Fuel
The ritual of brewing coffee is almost a meditation for me. I am partial to New Mexico Piñón Coffee. While it brews, I drink a large glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it. Then I feed my dog and cat.
Weather allowing, I take my coffee on patio in my backyard, and try to be mindful about drinking it and observing and experiencing the birds, the sun, the trees. I follow a ketogenic diet, and practice intermittent fasting. So the coffee, with a little heavy cream, is it for now.
Next comes the morning walk. My dog Twyla and I do about a mile each morning. During this time I listen to something inspiring and spiritually grounding - Tara Brach or Levi Lusko, usually.
Get to Work
I start work at 10 a.m., tending to my emails. Next I'll do a blog post and a social media post about "A Moment of My Beloved New Mexico."
At 11 a.m., I start writing or re-writing whatever novel I'm working on.
At 2 pm I have my first meal of the day. My food break takes about half an hour. I'll use the next half hour for minor housekeeping, like laundry.
At 2:45 p.m., it's back to writing, until 5 p.m. I average between 5 and 10 new pages a day this way.
Reconnect with Nature
I usually end my work day with a hike. I take the dog. We spend about an hour doing this. I listen to upbeat music and disconnect from the imaginary world I created all day. Sometimes, I dance on the trails. I call this "hiking while Cuban."
Dinner with Family
Around 7:30 p.m. I have dinner with my adult son. He's in college, and lived on his own till the pandemic. He moved back home but has his own apartment on my property. I cook. He cooks. We talk. It's lovely.
I'm a huge TV fan. We're in the golden age of scripted series. I love to read, and prefer audiobooks. I usually watch something and read something, every night.
Making the List
Before bedtime proper, I use a yellow legal pad and a Uniball pen (my favorites) to make a list of things I need to get done the next day.
11 p.m. is bedtime, and it all begins again!