Top Five Ways to Establish A Writing Routine 📝
2020 was a little crazy. Or, a lot. Whichever. And it threw a lot of us off our routines. Now you’re ready to get back to it, but somehow your old writing routine just doesn’t work any more.
So how do you establish a solid writing routine? I’m not going to demand that you write every single day no matter what. After all, that doesn’t fit everyone’s life. And I’m not going to demand an hour every day devoted to this creative outlet. Inspiration doesn’t always work on a timer. So what are some ways that EVERY author can establish a writing routine that fits them personally?
- First get your physical space in order. Whether you have a desk you always write at, that one spot in your garden, or your little corner of the couch, have a place that when you are there, your brain knows that it’s time to write. I wouldn’t suggest making your bed this spot, because then you’ll have trouble sleeping when it’s time to sleep. Some people need just the right coffee cup or just the right snack. Try out both what worked in the past, and also new things that you keep getting distracted by. If you always thinking about chips and dip when you sit down to write, maybe try getting the chips and dip before you sit down. Whatever “props” you might need, grab them, place yourself in your designated writing place, and then clear your mind of everything except your story. Get inspired by the Writing Spaces Project!
- Set yourself a goal. Whether that goal is a number of words per day, a time goal, or a number of chapters/scenes, set yourself a daily, weekly, and monthly goal. Write your goal out and put it in view when you’re writing. Whether that’s on a cork board above your desk or on a sticky note on the corner of your laptop. Set an obtainable goal and keep it in view. “I want to write a 60,000 word book in a month, but I only write M-F, so I need to 3,000 words every day or 15,000 words each week. If I write 5,000 words a day on M-W, then I can take Thursday to do administrative work and Friday off! If I don’t finish my 15,000 words by Friday evening, I will make it up on Saturday but then take off Sunday, regardless of how many words I got in.” (Note this is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. It also includes a carrot, Fridays off, and a stick, working on Saturday.) MasterClass says to “Gamify your creative writing ritual. Track unbroken streaks. Give yourself gold stars for every day you meet your goal, or download an app that holds you accountable.” Lindsay, Andrea, and Jo discuss gamifying on SFA Episode 058.
- Stop writing in the middle of a scene or sentence. Leave a note for where you want to go next when you begin. Having that jump start on the page waiting for you often helps get into the flow more quickly. But while you’re away from the desk, be plotting and thinking of the next scene or subplot while you’re working on more physical activities like doing the dishes or taking the kids and dogs for a walk. Mental work while doing something else still counts as writing time, even if you’re not sitting in your writing spot. And thinking through the problems while you’re away from the computer often helps get you excited about getting back to writing to put it all down. Check out Talks On My Morning Walk and how author Nathan Lowell handles this.
- Make yourself accountable. Whether it’s to your spouse, your VA, your editor, your readers, or other writers in your community, make your goals and regular progress known to someone. While there are multiple ways to track your progress, there are also multiple ways to broadcast (be accountable) what your progress is as well. But even if you’re making yourself accountable to a large group of people (maybe your readers in your weekly newsletter or your author friends in a social media group), make sure there’s at least one person who will call you out and actually keep you accountable to your goal. That’s really what author best friends are for. 😁
- Reward yourself when you’ve reached your goal. People often underestimate the value of using the carrot instead of the stick. But if you have a tangible goal with a tangible prize once you reach it, then it’s a lot easier to buckle down and do the thing when you don’t want to. Recently, I set myself a goal of two fifteen minute workouts a day. My reward? If I got both workouts in, then the following day I could have chips with my hummus for snack. Instead of carrots. Yep. My carrot for working out what literally to not eat carrots. I’m not a stubborn donkey, after all. I want my chips! But it worked surprisingly well. I worked out twice a day every day for almost 30 days in a row. Whether it’s a small daily carrot (like chips if you hit the chapter count) or a larger end-goal carrot (like a day at the beach once the book is finished), set yourself a carrot and then follow through on rewarding yourself. The next time, it’ll be a lot easier to write every day. Here’s an awesome list of ways to reward yourself on a budget.
Owner, Adriel Wiggins Author Services and Consulting
Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.
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