8 Helpful Pieces of Advice On Developing A Writing Routine
Right off, let me ask you, is the word routine off putting?
Here are two definitions:
- Noun: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
- Adjective: performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason.
I admit, those sound intimidating to me. So, what is a better word for me? For you?
I like the word habit. You can find a lot of synonyms for routine, but habit sounds less dictated or forced. It feels doable for me.
What ever word you choose, “it” will be a good thing to develop until "it" becomes, yep, the word you chose.
I’ve learned over several decades of writing that my needs changed as my life took its course from full time employment to part-time employment to self-employed which followed my husband’s retirement.
Wow, did my habits or routines change with each one. The last being the most life changing. Both of us at home, at the same time ... I think you can fill in the blanks. But we’re lucky and it wasn’t hard to make our habits work with each other.
Here are a few ideas to help find a routine, errr, habit.
1. CLEAR YOUR MIND AND COMPUTER
Duh, you say. Frankly it may be a duh moment, but I gotta tell you, it’s more than simply getting in the right frame of mind, yet it’s a simple trick.
If you need to access email in the morning or before whenever your best time for writing is, do it, then put it away. Shut down your email program and set up your area for writing. Whatever that looks like to you.
Then once that’s done, get up from your writing desk, make a cup of coffee, take walk, whatever you need to clear your mind, then come back and settle in.
I don’t open email again until later when I’m done with the task at hand.
2. CHUNKS OF WRITING ALLOWS ME TO STOP HAPPILY
Chunks? What are you talking about? I can see your frowns. Let me explain.
I found a method by Allie Pleiter called The Chunky Method. Adopting this one concept has freed me up literally to do more work because I can concentrate better.
I have learned that my chunks are 400 words. Yes, I can write more, but my best words are consistently written in around 400 chunks. Then I take a break. Walk, get coffee, yes, check email. Then if I still have time in the day for writing (I don’t write 8 hours a day, more like 3-4 devoted to the craft, biz and creative side) then I’ll sit down for another chunk.
Your chunk maybe higher or lower, it doesn’t matter, it’s YOUR chunk. It’s amazing, I can tell when my brain shuts off and I end up writing “stuff” instead of moving my story forward with real words. You all know what I mean.
Remember that editing time is part of your writing time as well.
3. PICK DAYS FOR CERTAIN TASKS
Set aside part of your writing day to do just that. Make this day, if at all possible, the same day of the week, every week. I have Tuesdays set on my planner for creative work. And I head to Book Brush to create those memes or whatever else needs to be done.
Once that task is done, I find that it’s easier to get in a chunk or two of writing. I don’t write first thing on a task day because I know me. A task undone will nag at me and my writing tends to be poorer.
4. KEEP SOME SORT OF A PLANNER TO HELP YOU PLAN THOSE TASKS
Each person’s brain works differently and choosing a method for what tool helps keep you on track may take some time. You may need to try a few. I use this idea . It truly keeps me focused on the tasks I must do, can move to another day and can think about much later.
This has been a life saver for me. I’ve been using this for the past 3 years and it works. Find one for you.
I mentioned above that Tuesdays are usually my Creative Day. Well Wednesdays are the day I have planned as a Task Day for handling my newsletter emails or write that newsletter.
Sure, if I have a hot topic in my newsletter, I may need to check my newsletter emails more frequently, but setting aside a day, clears my brain, and as I mentioned above, allows me to do what I need to do, then I’ll have time left over with a clear head to write.
I also have to pay bills and look at Amazon Ads, work on a class about Amazon Ads or YouTube …
Whatever is on your list of things that need ongoing attention, put them on a specific day in your planner. Some of these tasks will allow you to write first, then do the task. Only you will know which and when.
5. ALLOW YOURSELF SOME LEEWAY
Life gets messy, things come up and totally obliterate your plan, routine, or disrupts your habits. Don’t let the distraction make you feel guilty that it interfered with your routine.
Fix what needs fixing, do what needs to be done, then come back to your habit, routine, plan 😊 It’s okay. I’m giving you permission.
This past week I had a sudden 5-Day YouTube Challenge become available. There was no delaying this, so I made sure it was in my planner every day. I learned it would take about an hour a day so something had to give. This time it was my creative day time.
I made adjustments. I wrote in the mornings, and took that normal 3-4 hours of creative day time on Wednesday and spread over several days. I got it done by being flexible. Something had to give and it was my memes. But I still got my writing in and was creative in a different and even amazing way.
6. DECIDE HOW MUCH TIME YOU CAN OR WANT TO DEVOTE TO WRITING
Some folks write as a full-time job, others part-time. Do not think that you’re only a “serious writer” if you are doing this 8 hours a day, 5 or more days a week. You can produce the words if you find a habit that works for you and you adopt it. And again don’t forget the other part of authoring, the business side will take up your time.
Be honest with yourself about time. It doesn’t work to convince yourself you can write for 8 hours and then in actuality accomplish far less. That will just make you feel bad. Who needs that guilt?
7. HABITS ARE HARD TO FORM
Yes, they are. But there is a reason to start this now because I promise it gets easier as you repeat the same steps. Truly I promise. Repetition in nearly everything creates muscle memory and the brain is a muscle.
8. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS
If you find that something in your routine isn’t working, take a bit of time and think through why it’s not. Then change it around so it works FOR YOU. My habits aren’t going to work for you (except the email part!!!) and yours won’t work for me.
Find what does.
But above all, don’t give up. Life balanced with writing is a worthy reason to form those routines.
Article by L.A. Sartor
I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … specifically, a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar… That English teacher stopped my writing for years.
But the muse couldn’t be denied, and eventually I wrote, a lot. I learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and I’m absolutely on the right course in my life.
Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers.