This is unlikely to be the first time you’ve heard that a solid writing routine is key to a writer’s success. However, creating said routine is not always easy. Every person has different life circumstances, meaning what works for one person will not work for another.
A writing routine simply means that you are regularly sitting down to write, or perform associated authorly tasks, like research or plotting. Some writing routines involve daily practices, while others may weekly.
In order to build a good routine, you must first break it down into smaller pieces. Your routine is made up of individual writing sessions. Just like a writing schedule differs from person to person, so does each session itself.
To get you embarking on your next great adventure, here are a few tips to help you find your best writing routine.
5 Steps to Make the Most of Your Writing Session
Before you can do any real planning, you need to determine how much time you are able to commit. Start big and work your way down. How many weeks out of the month are you going to put aside time to write? If you are able to work weekly, then how many days a week can you write?
Of the days you can work on writing, are these consistent days of the week (for example, every Tuesday and Saturday), or will they fluctuate due to activities (every Tuesday and Saturday, except for the third Saturday of the month)? Some type of regularity will be extremely beneficial, while remaining flexible due to unexpected events.
Finally, how much time on each of those days are you able to spare? Perhaps you only have 15 minutes on Tuesdays, but you can block off 2 hours on Saturday. The amount of time you can realistically commit to is vital to planning the next step.
For this step, you will want to consider both long-term and short-term goals for the project you are working on. If you are working on multiple projects, you will need to think about the goals for each as they may differ greatly. If, for example, you are writing a novella with a word-count goal of 30,000 words, how long will it take you in a perfect world with your current time commitment?
If you want to finish your book in 3 months, you would need to need to write approximately 2500 words per week. If you only have two sessions a week at 30 minutes apiece, is that a feasible goal for you? Are you also including in time to research and plot? Being realistic with goal setting, which includes using viable time frames, is crucial to reducing disappointment and aggravation down the road.
We are bombarded with more distractions than ever in this technological world. Not all distractions are negative, but you must see them for what they truly are.
If you have children, you know how difficult it can be to get a few moments of “you time”. Perhaps you have a lot of personal or work-related commitments that you must juggle. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of social media or the newest hot program on television.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these activities, if you are either thinking about them or are actively participating in them instead of paying full attention during your writing session, you are doomed for failure.
Distraction is one of the biggest problems when it comes to a productive writing session, but only you can determine what your major distractions truly are. You need to be honest with yourself before you can find ways to eliminate these distractions wherever possible.
Can you write for 30 minutes while the kids are napping or after they go to bed? If you are beckoned by the call of social media, then spend time browsing them BEFORE you sit down for your writing session, temporarily muting any notifications. Even the buzz of a dryer completing its cycle can halt you in your tracks.
Distractions will inevitably happen, in spite of your best efforts. When they do, address them as quickly as possible. If you suddenly remember your electric bill is due tomorrow, can you write it down and put it to the side until after you are done writing? Planning ahead as much as you are able will make a huge difference.
Find Your Process
Each person will have differing processes, but even your particulars are apt to change over time. If you haven’t already, you need to find out what works best for you in the present, then be willing to adapt later as circumstances and preferences evolve.
The only way to do this is with experimentation. Try writing with music, with white noise and then with silence. Which do you like best? Try writing in various environments, like at home, at the library, or in a local park. What type of clothing are you most comfortable in and what writing software or physical paper is best for you? Do you prefer to eat beforehand, or snack throughout your session?
Finding your process can take time, but it is well worth the effort.
This may seem silly at first glance, but hear me out. A lack of proper supply planning slips right into the realm of distraction and of process. If you are at the coffee shop with your laptop, what will you do if you forget your charger? If you just sat down in the study with your favorite pen and journal, what happens when the pen runs dry in the middle of an important scene?
If you use a computer, be sure you have backup power. If you use writing utensils, ensure you have enough paper and backup pens and/or pencils. Do you need a certain pillow behind your back because of the crummy office chair? Do you have your lists and research material within arm’s reach?
Even something as simple as filling up your beverage or snack dish is important. Anything you found to be helpful in your writing process should be gathered before beginning each writing session. Every time you stop to go grab that thing you forgot, means lost minutes and lost flow. If your time is especially short already, this is time you cannot afford to waste.
Hopefully these steps will help you get off to a wonderful start. Remember, your writing sessions will not be the same as everyone else’s and that is perfectly ok. Anyone who tells you that you MUST do it a certain way should be tarred and feathered.
If you focus on finding the process that works best for YOU, you will have a rockin’ writing routine before you know it. Be willing to change things up as life changes around you and always be kind to yourself when things do not go as planned. As long as you keep trying, you can meet you goals. I believe in you!