I never suffer from ‘writers’ block’ because if I run out of steam, I just draw or write music. I believe that other forms of art inform my writing. ‘A change is as good as a rest’, they say, and I find this is true with writing.
Nor do I believe there is such a thing as ‘displacement’ activities. Almost anything, not just drawing or painting or writing music, but gardening, or cooking, house cleaning, or even shopping is all grist to the mill.
I think that more than an hour per day spent writing is not productive. I aim to write, or edit, five hundred words per day. That’s about a page and a half. Just one page per day is 365 pages per year, which is more than enough.
I find that if I write pages and pages of stuff, that it all looks wonderful when I first write it, but when I read it again, the following day, it makes me cringe! So I try to get in an hour’s writing, every day, at the same time every day. 6:00 AM is a good time.
And if I feel the ideas are coming thick and fast, I write brief notes and come back to them the following day. Sometimes they look good, but often they look ridiculous!
And as for displacement activities… Writing itself can be a displacement activity. Writing shouldn’t be easy. It’s bloody hard. If it seems easy, it’s probably because we’re using it as a distraction from painting the ceiling or mowing the lawn. Of course, the ten pages we wrote this afternoon when we should have been putting up a shelf reads like the best thing we’ve ever done! We want it to be important so that we don’t feel guilty about not doing something that we needed to do.
One hour or less writing time per day is ample. It’s a bit like doing an essay question in an English Lit exam. Scribble down a few notes and then work them into a page or so of prose. Do that every day and the novel will almost write itself. The hard part is ‘marking’ it or rather editing it. That needs more time and effort. Editing is the real writing. Writing is just treading water. Editing is swimming the channel in a gale.