The biggest struggle I have had with writing is getting on a schedule and then staying on it. That’s most writers, though. We live busy lives. We have day jobs, obligations, families, and friends. Our days are twisting, turning, jam-packed messes, so how are we supposed to get into a writing schedule?
It isn’t easy. It is, however, important.
Why you should have a writing routine:
- If you are in a routine, you are more likely to actually write. Someone who writes whenever they feel like it does not usually end up writing. In other words, if you want your novel/short story/other to get done any time soon, you need a routine.
- Having a routine will lower anxiety about writing. Writers often struggle with anxiety over the quality of their work, their word count goals, and their status as a writer. Having a routine gives a sense of stability that can calm an anxious writer. It helps me tremendously.
- Having a routine will stimulate your creativity. If you have a set time that you start to work your writing muscles every day, your creativity will naturally be prepared at that time. It may take a while, but eventually, your brain will be prepared when it senses that ‘writing time’ is starting.
There is a right and a wrong way to create a writing routine. A routine that is not right for you won’t stick. You’ll find yourself dreading it, or worse, never getting into the routine at all. Here are a few steps to creating a constructive routine that works for you:
- Find a time that is constructive to writing.
If you are a night owl and you want to start your writing routine at 5 a.m., it’s probably not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, though. If that is the only available time to write, then by all means, write at 5 a.m. The truth is, if you really want to write, you’ll make time for it. But the best scenario is for you to find a time that works with your personality rather than against it. If you’re a night owl, opt to write 1k words instead of binge watching The Walking Dead before bed. Morning person? Hit the keyboard bright and early. Do you peak during the afternoon? Find a way to pump out a few hundred words during your lunch break. Make your routine work for you.
- Set a time goal that is realistic.
If you are a full-time employee, single mother of five, and president of the book club, don’t shoot to write for five hours a night. That isn’t realistic. Don’t ask yourself for time that you won’t be able to find. Be realistic while setting a time goal. Think about the extra time in your day and how much you can reasonably spare. There is nothing wrong with writing for thirty minutes while the kids are taking a nap or while on lunch break. Not everyone can write a novel in a month, and that’s okay.
- Set a word count goal that is manageable.
If your time goal is thirty minutes and your word count goal is 1,000 words, you’re just going to frustrate yourself. You can only write so fast. How fast can you write? This is something every writer should know. I’m not just talking about how fast you can type. Different writers take different lengths of time to formulate ideas and construct sentences. Find out how fast you can write on average, then use that average to formulate a manageable word count.
- Give yourself a ritual.
Writing rituals are fun and productive. Having a ritual will make you more likely to write. For instance, if your ritual is getting a cup of coffee in your favorite mug before pumping out the words, then grabbing that mug of coffee will instantly make you feel like writing. Your ritual can be anything from sharpening pencils before you begin, to putting on your favorite pair of pajamas, to listening to a song that gets you pumped for writing. If you have a writing ritual, share it in the comments at the end of this post.
- Make yourself accountable.
This can be accomplished a number of different ways. You could tell someone who is kind but firm and ask them to keep you accountable. You could also use an app. I love Writeometer! It’s my absolute favorite. It has a number of awesome features that keep me writing and writing consistently. Check it out by clicking here.
How do I stick with my writing routine?
Cause this is what your after, right? Anyone can be on a routine for a day or a week or maybe a month, but you want this to be a lifestyle. Good for you! Not so easy, but good for you. The good news is, once you are in a routine, it’s easier to stick with it. The bad news is there will always be distractions trying to pull you away from your writing routine.
Here are the tips you need to stay on your writing routine so you can have a healthy writing career:
What to Do When You Are Tempted to Break Your Writing Routine:
- Set a timer for ten minutes, then Google some inspiration. Google can be a well of inspiration. Sometimes, you just need a motivational quote to pump you up (and if so, follow me on Pinterest or follow my board ‘Writing Motivation’ to get the kick in the pants you need), but if unchecked, you could end up spending all day lost in the rabbit hole we call the internet. Use your timer to keep you accountable. Ten minutes to fill you with inspiration, then back to writing!
- Choose to write less rather than not write at all. Some days you just can’t hit your word count goal, and that’s okay. What isn’t okay is getting so worked up about not reaching that goal that you don’t write anything at all. Even writing a short paragraph will help you stay in the habit of writing. Maybe a paragraph doesn’t finish your novel, but a paragraph every day for an extended of amount of time will.
- Understand that once your take a ‘break’ from writing every day, it will be harder to get back into the habit. Don’t entertain the false belief that you can just start back up again like nothing happened. That’s not how it works. You put a lot of time and effort into creating a writing routine and getting in the habit of writing, so do you really want to throw it all away?
- If all else fails, take a break. When I say writers should write every day, ‘ever day’ isn’t all that literal. I believe you should write 99.9% of the time, but let’s face it, life can be difficult. If you are having an emotional, busy, stressful, or otherwise awful day, you might need to skip writing. But only once, never twice in a row! You can get into a habit of not writing easier than you can get in a writing routine. Two days will turn to three, which will turn to a month, then a year, and before you know it, you will wake up thirty years later and realize you never accomplished your dream of being a novelist. Don’t let that be you.
What if I still cant get into a writing routine?
Maybe you try and try, but you can’t seem to keep your writing routine consistent. Day after day, you promise yourself that you will work on your novel, but weeks later you still haven’t written a single word. You aren’t alone. I’ve struggled with this many times myself. Many writers suffer from guilt and discouragement because of failing to get into a writing routine. The important thing to remember is to forgive yourself. You’re only human, and you have other things going on in your life. Feeling guilty will only further hold back your writing. Perhaps you need more writing motivation. To read ‘10 Ways to Find Motivation to Write‘ click here. Maybe you need to learn to write even on bad days. To read ‘5 Strategies to Get You Writing (Even When You Aren’t Motivated)’ click here.
Want to become a better writer? Get e-mail updates on articles that will get you writing, keep you writing, and improve your writing.
Sign up now and get FREE ‘No Excuses’ Kickstarter Kit to Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing! (Click here to read more about kit.)
Thank you for reading! If you found these tips helpful, please share this post. Also, tell me about your routine in the comments. I wish you the best of luck with your writing routine!