Do you have a writing routine?
I don’t know where I would be without mine.
Some days I have the hardest time writing. It can be hard to motivate myself to turn on the computer and start. Or I’m sitting at the computer but the words just aren’t coming. I’m checking my word count every other word. It feels impossible just to write a few decent sentences. Some days are harder than others.
These are usually the days when I don’t follow my writing routine.
Other days I have the easiest time writing. I’m motivated and my hands can’t type as fast as my brain is thinking. Words are flowing and advancing the plot or deepening the character development in ways I never dreamed possible. The words on the page surprise me sometimes. But they feel right. They feel natural. Before I know it I’ve reached or exceeded my word count goal. Some days are easier than others.
These are usually the days when I do follow my writing routine.
7 Steps that Will Improve Your Writing Routine
My writing routine is structured and specific. But it keeps me motivated and focused. It puts me in the right mindset to write productively and well. Everything seems to go more smoothly when I’m following my writing routine. Not only do I write faster, but I write better.
I know from personal experience that the writing routine I’m about to share works for me. I think it will be beneficial to you as well, but some of the steps may not help you. Every writer has to find what works for them. I hope these steps will inspire you to know what will improve your writing routine.
It may also be helpful to read about other writers’ routines.
1. Get Ready
A good first step is getting ready for the day. For me, this means taking a shower, doing my hair and makeup. Making sure I’m wearing something comfortable. If my hair isn’t clean or done I feel lazy and unproductive. If I’m ready for the day and feel clean and presentable, it’s so much easier to motivate myself to get things done. Getting ready for the day also helps me feel awake and alert. I can think better and that helps me write better.
2. Eat Breakfast
I write best in the morning, so I always make sure to eat a good breakfast before I start writing. Writing on a full stomach helps me focus. Food gives us energy and helps us focus. I definitely feel better when I eat breakfast. If I’ve eaten something before I start writing I’m also less likely to use hunger as an excuse to leave the room and procrastinate writing. If you write best after lunch or dinner, the same logic applies. If you don’t write directly after a meal, try eating a snack before you start writing.
3. Have Water with You
Once I finish breakfast, I fill up my water bottle and head to my writing space. I always make sure my water bottle is full and accessible before I start writing. Having water with me gives me one less excuse to leave the room. If I leave to go get my water bottle, sometimes I come back to my computer hours later. Sometimes I don’t come back. Drinking water as I write also keeps me hydrated and able to think and write better.
4. Keep Your Area Distraction Free
Before I sit down, I make sure my writing space is free from any distractions. A clean area is essential if I want to write well. So I always spend a few minutes tidying up my desk and surrounding space before I’m ready to write. Sometimes this even means taking the trash out or picking things up off the floor. The cleaner my writing environment is, the more likely I’m going to write better. Keeping my area distraction free can also mean silencing my phone and avoiding Facebook. If I’m constantly checking text messages or Facebook notifications it takes time away from writing and I have to remember what I was trying to write. It slows me down and disrupts my writing routine.
5. Read before You Write
Once I’ve removed all distractions, I’m ready to sit down but I don’t start writing quite yet! I try to read something before I write. Whether it’s reading the genre I write, or a book about writing, or even my journal, I like to read before I write. Reading prepares my mind to write as I read good examples of my genre or as I learn from a book about writing. Reading is a good warm-up activity to do before writing. Even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes.
6. Have a Goal or Vision for the Day
Now that I’ve read something, you may think I’m ready to start writing. But there’s one more thing I like to do. I like to have a goal or vision for the day and a plan to achieve that goal. Sometimes it’s a small goal to write a certain amount of words or to write for a certain time limit. Other times I set a goal to focus on character development or natural dialogue or plot. Having a vision for the day keeps me focused on why I’m writing and makes writing more exciting!
7. Indulge Your Quirky Writing Habits
Don’t we all have quirky habits that help us write? One of mine is painting my nails. I don’t know why it helps, but I love to write when my nails are painted. I used to specifically paint my nails before writing a term paper and if I’m struggling to write painting my nails can help me feel more motivated. What quirky writing habits do you have?
While this writing routine definitely makes it easier for me to write, it doesn’t make my writing perfect. I still need to revise. Often and heavily. But this routine does help me write more regularly and it makes the writing process more enjoyable. I’m more motivated.
There are also definitely days when I can’t follow my routine. Sometimes I don’t have time to go through my whole process. E.B. White said “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” I absolutely agree with this statement. Your writing routine should never keep you from writing at all. But the days I do make or find the time to follow my routine often turn out better than the days when I don’t follow my routine.
What does your writing routine look like? How do you keep yourself motivated to write?