10 Tips on Establishing a Writing Routine
Like any habit, it's always hard when you're first starting out. Below you'll find ten of my tips to help establish a writing routine. Don't worry if it takes a while to fall into the habit or if you end up writing poorly for the first few days or even weeks. It takes time for the creative juices to start flowing. Remember, the more you write, the better you'll be at writing.
1. Schedule Writing Time
Just like you make time for exercise, dinner and Tumblr, create a space that you can dedicate to writing. You may have to move this time around to find a time that is suitable for your schedule. Are you usually better creatively at night or in the daytime? When do you feel relaxed enough to clear your head and write? Or do you enjoy writing to relax after a long day?
2. Indulge the Social Media and Time Wasters
Instead of sitting down and being tempted by Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest and the likes, let yourself browse through them, but give yourself a time limit. This way you'll get the urge out, but you feel deprived. An example of this would be to give yourself 20 minutes or so to just browse through whatever sites are your favorite, then after that, get your rear in gear and write!
Do you work better under a deadline or with a certain goal in mind?
3. Create Daily Goals and Reward the Milestones
Sure long term goals are important for any project, but short terms goals are even more important. Creating a daily goal of 2,000 words a day is a good way to stay on track. If 2,000 in one sitting is too much for you to handle and you start to get antsy, break the goal down into smaller chunks, say 500. For every said goal, give yourself a reward for accomplishing it. This could be a carrot, a cookie or something non-tangible like watching a YouTube video from your subscriptions or 10 minutes of Facebook time.
4. Slowly Increase Your Writing Time
If you're not in the habit of writing every day, don't aim to write every day for an hour. Not only will it not happen and you'll feel awful for not accomplishing it, but you'll end up resenting the time you've set aside for yourself. You shouldn't consider your scheduled writing time a prison sentence. It is after all supposed to be fun. If you don't feel like writing on your current piece, try switching things up a little.
5. Start Writing Time with a Warm-up
It's often hard to jump right back into a long piece of writing, especially after a long day of work. Instead, try free writing or choosing a short writing prompt to get the creative juices flowing, then ease yourself back into whatever you're working on at the moment.
6. Find Accountability Somewhere
Whether this is a competition, a beta reader, a writing group, friend or family member, find something to help keep you accountable for your time. This is especially helpful when you're trying to get back into the habit of writing again. It's easier to let yourself down and find excuses, but having a solid deadline or purpose for writing makes it harder to neglect writing.
Have you ever tried writing when you're upset or sad?
7. Be Diligent About Trying
When the words are just not flowing and you're just not in the mood, you might have to let yourself off the hook for a day. HOWEVER, some of my best writing comes when I'm upset or feel like I'm crying. Give it a shot and if you feel the words flowing from you fingers, go for it! If you absolutely can't manage to clear your head or just need to get away, don't force yourself to just waste time getting upset that you can't write. Watch a movie, go for a walk, but don't use the loss of a day as an excuse for breaking your daily writing habit.
8. Research and Experience New Things
If you're stuck in a rut with your writing routine, take a break and move your writing outside or find something new to experience and write about it. One of the best ways to improve your writing is to just write. And as a writer gathering experiences and witnessing different things are all tools to use later in your writing. Ever gone dumpster diving or eavesdropped on strangers?
9. Develop a Ritual
Now you don't have to do anything super crazy if you don't want to, but clearing off your desk, grabbing a tea and snuggling up with your writing blanket can help you feel like writing time is a part of your day. The more you feel like writing is a natural part of your day, the more you'll look forward to it. Find a special spot to always write in, or a special treat that you always do before writing.
10. Take Care of Business
Before you even sit down and try to write, give yourself some ground rules and supplies. Get a drink, grab a snack, feed the cats, do whatever you need to to take care of errands and every day things that we use as excuses to get up from the computer (or away from the paper) to take care of. Yes, this means going to the bathroom before hand and making sure you don't get up to grab another snack or coffee until you hit some sort of milestone.