This is something that is personal and somewhat unique to each and every writer. Everyone has their own methods, routines and quirks when it comes to putting the pen to the paper or the fingers to the keyboard.
My first thought about this is grab as much time as you can to write! This is, however, easier said than actually done. The urge and inspiration to actually write can be hard to achieve. I myself have yet to perfect ways of achieving both! Find your own place to sit down and gather your thoughts; have a drink; plan out ideas you have for your story or any random ones that float amongst the mental stockpile; do something to loosen yourself up either physically, mentally, or both; listen to something. At the end of the day you should do what you feel is best for you!
Do as much reading as possible – any writer will tell you that. Read a wide variety – this helps your knowledge and you can also see how different approaches to writing are undertaken. Comparing styles is also a good way of finding your own niche.
When it comes to my own regiment of writing… it is a bit haphazard in my opinion. I do most of my writing on word processing software and back it up 3 or 4 times on separate flash drives if needs be. All my planning and quick-to-come ideas get put into one of my many writing pads for future referencing – I write those in pencil in case I want to correct my notes at a later date.
There is always a point when I go to myself: ‘What the hell do I put next?’ This is a headache in itself! If I am so very stuck I go to intense planning in my notebook/pad. But then there is the predicament of ‘What do I plan?’ *Remember everyone is different* When moments like these occur I conduct research on the internet and whatnot. I usually read up on backgrounds that relate to the basis for my story, and I even watch a video or 2 if there are any I can find. This flooding of information almost always grants new innovative thoughts and ideas. *Also, a tip for many people out there who are stuck is to revisit the initial inspiration that gave you the idea. I find this helps enormously as it reaffirms the foundations of the story and can reset your train of thought, which could go a different route than it did the first time around.
I spend a lot of time stuck in front of my desktop – it is as simple as that to be honest. I write down things in pencil and maybe even draw things out if I feel they would help me develop my scene. I tank up on water, coffee and snacks to keep me going and always have my research on hand. A favourite thing I like to do when it comes to writing a novel is to make up a music playlist of songs/tunes that make me think about my work – that’s one of my main quirks!
There are items that I find put me into the zone too: My green and black neck scarf, blue-tinted sunglasses, fingerless gloves, office chair, and my Alton Towers Oblivion mug for my coffee and tea. (I have never been on Oblivion though… not on your life!) Again these are my own personal quirks – I am not telling you what you should or should not do.
If I feel I can write for a couple of hours then I go for it. If not then I try and read, research, plan or gather inspiration for my mind to work on.
My final thought is to do with multiple responsibilities – it will be hard to juggle many of them. For example, the combination of a job, a serious relationship, writing and an education course – this can easily be sorted out with the making of a schedule of some kind, or even a calender where you can jot down what you intend to do each day. Press on and keep things organised as best you can.