The Productive Writer: an Interview with Author Dee Romito

Dee Romito is the author of the middle grade novel Summer Bucket List, to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2016. She is also a teacher and freelance writer who specializes in educational writing.
Romito blogs about writing at I Write for Apples, where she and others share tips to help writers of children’s and young adult literature get published. Romito shared her perspective and tips for writers who need more variety and flexibility than routine.
What’s your own daily routine like? What habits do you cultivate and what benefits do you find in them?
I’d say I work more on a non-routine kind of schedule, and I like it that way. There are certain parts of my day that are set, especially with the kids’ schools and activities. But it’s the times in between I get to play with.
If I need a lot of writing time during a particular week, that’s what I do in all those “open” times in between what’s on the schedule. Then I set other times when I know I can get work done as well. On the other hand, if I’m taking a step back or my manuscript is out with beta readers, I might use that time for the million other things I need to get done- planning school events, cleaning and organizing, home projects, errands. It works for me because it never becomes so monotonous that I feel in a rut. If I ever need to, I can change it up.
The most common advice we hear about writing habits is simply to write every day. But what’s your best advice for overcoming procrastination and getting quality work out of your time spent writing?
I know it’s the mantra of a lot of people, but “write every day” doesn’t work for me. Some days are full of the many other things in life, and I love that. I might not write on a Friday because of activities or friends and family visiting, but then I’ll spend most of Saturday really hammering things out. There are certainly times when I set a daily word count for myself and stick to it, especially when I have a bigger goal to meet, but it’s not the norm for me. I’m the girl who rearranges my furniture and changes my Facebook profile pic on a regular basis- I like variety.
My advice for overcoming procrastination and creating quality work? I recently read a book called The Now Habit by Neil Fiore and there were two big things I took from it. One is to keep in mind that actually starting a big project is the hard part, and if you commit to just thirty minutes at a time, it makes it a lot more manageable. So now when I have something to conquer that I keep putting off, I remind myself I only need to give it thirty minutes right now. That’s it. Just get started. And once I do, I usually find I want to keep at it.
The second thing is that it’s okay to schedule play time (not just work time!) and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it. That downtime allows me to have the focus required when it comes to getting work done.
I find that if I’ve given myself the flexibility to adjust my schedule and I know I have both writing and play time in sight, I’m ready to write and the words flow much better.
Are there any habits you’re trying to develop now? What motivated you to work on them?
Always. Keeping up with daily chores and staying organized are the biggest hurdles for me. I’m great at getting organized, it’s staying organized that’s the tougher part. I love rearranging, organizing, and coming up with plans because I get to be creative.
My motivation is simply that I really, really want to be better at it. To walk into my house and feel relief because I’ve already sorted the mail or put away the kids’ schoolwork. To open up my laptop and see that I’m caught up on emails and all my blog posts are set. I love that feeling.
Who or what inspires you? Whose habits would you like to know more about and why?
People who give to others and donate their time regardless of what they have in life are the people who inspire me. They remind me to do what I can, and maybe to hold an extra door open or be sure to make someone smile that day. I have always believed we should help each other and anyone who does that is an inspiration to me.
And kids. Kids always inspire me. ☺
As far as habits I admire, that would be my teacher friends who day in and day out stay on top of everything- plans, correcting, lesson prep, meeting dates- and still have a great attitude with the kids. Teachers are amazing people and teachers who keep a perfectly neat desk and are always caught up? Yeah, I love to learn their tips and habits.
[Tweet “”…’write every day’ doesn’t work for me” ~@writeforapples on flexibility in her daily routine”] provides everything you need to improve performance in diet, fitness, productivity, and life. Join others who are improving their writings skills by adding these habits to your dashboard:

  • Write for 30 minutes: a timed practice of writing each day.
  • Unclutter: bring some serenity to your work environment.
  • #500WED: a community challenge to fall in love with writing again. Can you write 500 Words Every Day for a month?