Ep. 25 | Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on Healthy Routines for Writers

[being a writer you need] to take care of yourself… because writing can be really hard… for my writing I deal with topics such as PTSD and trauma and that affects you mentally as well…. Having a daily exercise routine is also important [to support your writing routine]. I practice yoga and go for walks.


In this episode, Vietnamese-born author Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai discusses her writing routines, making a particular emphasis on the ways we need to take care of ourselves as writers. In her novel, The Mountains Sing, Quế Mai dealth with complex topics such as war, torture and family trauma; her writing process wasn’t always easy and because of that she was keen on supporting her mental and physical health.

Even if you don’t write about such difficult issues, writing can still be taxing at times. What do you normally do to take care of your physical and mental health in between writing sessions?

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • How a writing routine can help you when writing difficult pieces.
  • Yoga and a writing routine.
  • Taking care of your mental health as a writer.

My ideal writing day would be waking up very early and not having social media when I wake up…  writing in the morning and reading in the afternoon and the evening.


Connect with Quế Mai:

Website / Twitter Instagram / FaceBook

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

Ep. 24 | Inés G. Labarta on Waking Up at 5am to Write

I really try to write first thing in the morning, before I do anything else, at least anything else that’s mental… because my brain is just too tired after a day of work.


CEOs and productivity gurus may have been talking about the wonders of starting your day early for years now. But the reality is that for many of us, it is the only way of dedicating some focused time to what we care about the most – before the day starts and other responsibilities kick in.

In this episode, writer Inés G. Labarta discusses how she trained herself to wake up at 5am to get some writing time done whilst completing her full-time Creative Writing PhD and having several part-time jobs to support herself. This was no fashionable routine but, rather, something she had to resort to keep a regular writing practice. Luckily, she soon discovered some advantages in writing at such early hours, and now she has implemented this habit in her writing life.

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Writing before you start working at 9am
  • Managing several part-time jobs, a PhD and a writing routine

Connect with Inés:

Twitter Instagram

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

EP. 23 | CHARLEY BARNES ON using writing time as a reward

There are some days when working on fiction becomes my reward system around getting X amount of jobs done from the day-job list.

charley barnes

When you have to combine your writing career with another job, the usual struggle is to carve the time out to focus on your craft. Most of us will try to start writing before the start of our day job. But what if we did things the other way around?

For crime author and Creative Writing lecturer Charley Barnes, her precious writing time is the reward after a hard day at work. Delaying the ‘pleasure’ (we know it doesn’t always feel like that!) of sitting at the desk to focus on her own fiction projects seems to help her productivity and motivation. Have you ever tried something similar?

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Being a writer and a Creative Writing lecturer
  • Finding motivation to sit down to write after working on your day job

Connect with Charley:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

EP. 22 | caitlin stobie on writing while doing a postdoc

I don’t have a writing routine for my writing now, it mostly happens in little bursts in between finishing something for my postdoc or maybe on the weekend, in the evenings…

caitlin stobie

Some authors combine their careers with a job in academia. This is the case of Caitlin Stobie, who is a writer and a research fellow at the University of Oxford. In fact, Caitlin’s interest in the intersections between science and literature partly inspired her forthcoming poetry collection, Thin Slices.

In this episode, Caitlin talks about changing routines to find what works best for you wherever you are in life. She also recommends the book Daily Rituals, which describes the creative routines of well-known writers such as Sylvia Plath, Patricia Highsmith and Franz Kafka.

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Combining your academic writing with your fiction writing
  • Writing on the weekends and during the evenings

Connect with Caitlin:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

EP. 21 | rob m francis on writing first thing in the day

More often than not I’ll open my laptop and start writing at around 7 o’clock in the morning. That’s deliberate because I know that I’m going to get two hours worth of work without anyone getting in touch with me on email or a phone call or anything like that.

rob m francis

If waking up early is something that comes naturally to you, why not try to get your writing done before anything else? The early hours tend to be the most creative, way before your brain becomes overwhelmed with the demands of the day. For years Rob has started his day very early at his writing desk, which gives him two hours of focused time on the craft before going into his day job as a lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton. No wonder why he’s such a prolific writer!

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Writing first thing in the day
  • Cold showers, breathing exercises and more ways to tap into your creativity
  • Finding time to focus on your writing and avoid distractions

Connect with Rob:

Website / Twitter

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.

Ep. 20 | Lisa Blower on fitting your writing around your day job

I swim in the morning and i try to get back to the house by quarter to nine, i make a big pot of coffee, i read what i wrote yesterday and then i’ll write as much as i can before i have to be zoom-ready for a meeting or whatever is coming up that day.

lisa blower

Only a few authors have the luxury to dedicate all their time to their craft. For most of us, writing is something we do around other jobs. In this episode, Lisa talks about how she fits her writing around her academic career. You don’t need to have a very strict writing routine to be successful!

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • Writing around a day-time job
  • Tips on having a writing routine that’s flexible around other commitments.

I’d love to say i have a writing routine, but i don’t, i write very sporadically.

lisa blower

Connect with Lisa:

Website / Twitter / Instagram

EP. 19 | yvonne battle-felton on writing during your commute

I started taking the train and commuting…  and it was all that time, two hours and a half, that I could be writing, but I wasn’t, because I kept thinking oh I’m inconveniencing other people, and then I started hearing people having these private conversations on this public train… after hearing the third private conversation I thought, ok, so I can write here…. so now I write on trains, in between places, I can write in cafes, public libraries, crowded spaces, in a park… I can write anywhere that a mood strikes me or a character does a whisper… I can write anywhere now.

yvonne battle-felton

Yvonne Battle-Felton, author of Remembered, talks to us about her writing routines. From her dislike of waking up way too early to fit writing before her work day – although she may have changed her mind on this one, since she’s been recently hosting a daily writing group that meets at 5.55am – to how she started using her commute time to get projects done.

Listen to this extract to find advice on:

  • How to write on the go.
  • Finding a writing routine that works alongside your day job.

The closest I have to a routine is that I try to start my day with writing…. I love it because that’s me prioritising my writing.

yvonne battle-felton

Connect with Yvonne:

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

The Wandering Bard podcast is also available on Spotify. You can also find us on Twitter at @TheWBmag.