In this post, we explore how writing routines enhance your writing.
This past week, on two separate occasions, I was asked about daily writing habits and writing routines and meeting deadlines. There is a lot of advice out there. The lists of what you should and shouldn’t do are long and often contradictory. Here’s what works for me.
How Writing Routines Enhance Your Writing
Should You Write Every Day?
We’re always told that we should write daily, and this is great advice, but what happens when daily writing becomes a chore? We know that routine trumps talent, but must we really write EVERY day? How will we find the time? How can we find the joy again?
Instead of writing daily we can rather focus on writing regularly.
The word ‘routine’ does not specify how often you must write. Google says routine is ‘a sequence of actions regularly followed’. That is all you need to do. If daily writing is not working for you right now, or never did, make an appointment with yourself whether it is once a week or three times a week, but regularly is the most important word. (Once a month though, may not be enough. You need to write as much as possible, but every day isn’t compulsory.)
The first challenge is, of course, to find the time. We literally need to make it or find it. Shorter, more regular appointments may help. Finding three hours to write is a challenge but finding ten minutes is do-able. I find starting my day with a writing session or ending my day with it is easier, but if lunchtime is the only time you have, go for it.
What To Write?
The second challenge you’ll face is what to write. If you are in the middle of a novel, well, you’ll write the novel, but what if you are not?
Consider journaling or writing to a prompt or both. This will also work if your novel has stalled.
Writing is an excellent cure for not writing, but that is easier said than done. Doing mundane chores have been known to get the ideas stared, but prompts are always a win for me. The journaling is often good for the warm-up, then you can try a prompt and hopefully you can end with a few pages of your novel.
It depends on the time you have. If you only get 500 words in ten minutes between meetings that is awesome and more than enough.
It is important not to wait for inspiration to write. The inspiration arrives while you are writing the uninspired stuff. Put pen to paper. I don’t want you to force it, but keep writing. The prompts will help.
I was on a coaching call the other day and the coach spoke about valuing your time and spending it on the things you love. That made me think about my writing. I know, above all, that it is what I want to do, but why do I moan about it?
So anyway, during the call he suggested changing your phrasing: Instead of saying ‘I have to…’, rather say, ‘I get to…’. (You can read more about it here.) It is such a small change, but it sure made a difference. Writing is a gift and I get to do it.
Another trick I use to shut up my inner critic is to publicly declare my intentions, goals and deadlines. It works for me to know ‘someone’ knows what I should be doing and is waiting for my work. It really helps.
The Last Word
I hope this post on how writing routines enhance your writing helps you with yours.
It was Dorothy Parker who said, ‘I hate writing, but I love having written.’ Forgive yourself if you don’t find joy in every day and on every page, but be grateful that you get to write a story, after all, it could have been an annual report. (If you do have to write annual reports, remind yourself that you get to write something fun afterwards. Hehe.)
by Mia Botha
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