Over the course of the past three years we've been doing research on how to build the most effective writing routine. We've spent late nights, early mornings, week days and weekends, consistent and non-consistent periods of time testing out different methods. We've tested dozens of methods recommended by writers that insist their way is the holy grail to writing more words, more often. What we found is that it's less about the methods and more about the dedication of the writer to get the words on the page. But more than that, it's about inviting the muse into your life and actually paying attention when opportunity knocks. Building a writing routine that will work for your lifestyle and particular kind of writing is an exploration and discovery journey. There's no magic cure or fix-all for writing your novel, but there are many ways you can encourage and hold yourself accountable to your pen.
Here are some tried-and-true tips to help get you started:
✍🏻 Consider the following first: Your lifestyle, your daily non-negotiable tasks versus those that can shift, your preferred method of writing, and what time of day you feel most inspired. The better you know your own habits, the better your choice of sticking to your writing routine.
✍🏻 There's always time, but maybe not all at once: Struggling to squeeze writing in may mean you're trying to follow a writing schedule that doesn't work for your lifestyle. Don't be afraid to split time up into smaller sessions multiple times a day versus one long block of time or vice versa. Be flexible according to your daily to-do list.
✍🏻Set the mood: Writing in the same place, at the same times, with the same rituals can help you shift from to-do list to writing faster. Music, candles, snacks, blankets, and any other comfort items kept in the same place can also help limit the need to walk away once you sit down.
✍🏻 Identify Distractions: You know what they are in the back of your mind but if they aren't listed down on paper, are you ignoring them? Chances are you're letting yourself get away from writing and that's why your writing isn't happening.
✍🏻 It’s okay to make it your creative process however you want. Writing doesn’t have to happen a certain way as long as it gets the words on paper. We're all different and create differently, and that's okay.
✍🏻 It’s good to try new writing techniques and explore ways of writing, but trust your process and what its telling you is best. At the end of the day, do what works for you, not what works for everyone else just because it's a popular method.
✍🏻 Invite the muse to dinner but don’t force her to sit. If she’s not staying it might be because one of the above elements isn’t in the right place. This is the number one reason we get writer's block.
✍🏻 Keep exploring. If you’re new to building a routine, it will most likely take time to get it right. Don’t let discouragement stop you. It's a trial-and-error process and there's no due date for perfection.
✍🏻 Track your goals in a way that doesn’t hurt you creatively or mentally. If you’re going to beat yourself up because you didn’t achieve a word count, choose another way to measure progress.
✍🏻 Define what a successful writing routine looks like for you. It’s different for all writers and goes beyond just counting words. Remember, do what makes you proud not what makes you perfect.
Ultimately the right writing routine is the one that works best for your lifestyle and writing goals. It doesn't have to look like a conventional routine, it doesn't have to meet expectations for anyone other than you, and it can be as straightforward or as creative as you want it to be. Every writer is different friends, follow your weird.