Routines are popular among creative writers, and for good reason. They enforce the habit of writing and help you stay productive and consistent in your work. But they’re also tragically easy to fall out of, and finding a routine that works for you can take a lot of time and energy that you would rather save for other things. If you want to start your own writing routine, here are some things you should consider to get the most out of it.
1. Don’t expect too much. One of the biggest mistakes I make when I try routines is that I try to commit myself to an ideal amount of work. But life is far from ideal. Things come up, you get sick or find yourself buried in other commitments. Some days you won’t right as well or as much as others. The best routines are the ones that won’t take up a lot of time and ones that you won’t feel stressed about making. You’re better off aiming for 100 words a day than 1000 if you don’t know you can keep up with that.
2. Make it fun. Create a pleasant atmosphere, or give yourself regular rewards for meeting your goals. Your writing time should be a time of enjoyment, not just of stressed scrambling over a keyboard. I often fix myself a delicious beverage and listen to music that makes me think of my story. I know I’m in a good routine if my writing time is something I look forward to!
3. Prepare for changes. Life changes. Sometimes dramatically. My writing routines now are different than they were a couple years ago, before I was married, which were still different from my routines in college. If you’re undergoing a major lifestyle change, take some time to re-evaluate your writing routine and see what might need to be changed. Even if it means committing to a lower word count or less time spent typing, it’s better to commit to something you know you can keep than something that you might not reach.
4. Keep it simple. For all I’ve written above, I personally am not currently sticking to a word count or set time that I spend writing. The only writing goals that I keep to are writing an article (or fixing something up or adding something awesome) on Finish That Novel! every three days and writing something every day. Unless I’m taking part in a writing challenge, I don’t hold myself to any strict goal, and I think that for right now that’s the best thing for me. A routine doesn’t need to be elaborate, so long as it involves writing!
5. Keep it regular. I was terrible at writing journals until I committed myself to writing in them every day (even when there was nothing to write). Maybe you can only spend ten minutes of your lunch break scribbling some words or maybe you can only write on weekends. So long as you have a regular schedule, you will become much more productive as a writer.
6. Set goals! I don’t always have a goal in mind when I write, but when I do it helps. Sometimes I decide to reach a certain scene in my novel or point in the story by a certain time. Sometimes I decide to do a certain word count or write an entire chapter. Shake your goals up a lot so that they don’t lose their freshness. Then let them motivate you!
7. Break your routine. I know many writers who can only write under the proper circumstances and who cling to their routines. If that works for you, great. But I need variation and experimentation to keep things interesting. Try writing somewhere else for a change, or sticking to a stricter goal for a while. Join an event. Just remember that it’s always nice to come home to your routine at the end of a writing adventure!
What’s your writing routine? Do you have any awesome tips to share? Please let us know all about it in the comments below!