How I Write

Orrin Onken
4 min readMar 26
AI picture. Prompt by Author

To retain a smidgen of self-esteem, I have for a long time refrained from writing about writing. That self-discipline, along with my remaining self-respect, ends today.

I am going to write about writing.

I write. I am a writer. Here’s how I do it.

I get up early. Early morning is perfect for writing because nobody else is up to talk to me and there are no sports on TV yet.

I make coffee. I cannot write without coffee. Actually, I can’t do anything without coffee, so in that respect, writing is like every other activity I engage in. But I always make coffee before I write.

I put my cup of coffee next to the keyboard of my computer.

Once in front of my computer, I check my email, my Twitter accounts, Facebook, Instagram, Medium, two different cooking websites, and TikTok. Assuming there are no emergencies in my social media accounts, I check the news. For me, that means the online versions of the New York Times, Politico, and my local newspapers.

Then I switch to Duolingo for my morning Spanish lesson. I am on unit fifty-one. I have been using Duolingo for two years and still can’t speak more than a couple words of Spanish, but I have a two-hundred day uninterrupted streak of meeting my daily goal and I don’t want to mess it up.

I do Wordle.

By this time I’m on my fourth cup of coffee and my hands are shaking. I figure I better eat something, so I make myself toast and eggs.

After eating, I get back to writing.

I meditate for twenty minutes, hoping that through mindfulness I will intuitively know which word processor best fits this morning’s creative juices. I have Google Docs, Word, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Notepad, Scrivener, and Typora. None of them feels right. I read an article on Medium about the writing program, Ulysses. It sounds great, but it is only available on a Mac. I have Windows. I make a list of the pros and cons of going to Best Buy and buying myself a Mac. I decide against it.

I slap myself on the hand and tell myself in my sternest voice, “Stop it. Start writing.”

I have two unfinished novels waiting for me in Google docs and one in Scrivener. I have seventeen unfinished short…

Orrin Onken

I am a retired elder law attorney who lives near Portland, Oregon. I write legal mysteries for Salish Ponds Press and articles about being old.