top of page

Starting and Keeping your Ideal Writing Routine

Before you read, please accept a preemptive reminder to take advice about the craft, from me and anyone else, always with a grain (or even a whole packet) of salt. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s everything you need to know about starting and keeping the ideal writing routine for you!


The following is a list of factors you’ll need to take into consideration when creating your ideal routine. Be realistic and honest with yourself when you think through these things! It will serve you better in the end.

  • When in the day your attention is most in demand from family, life stuff, work, friends, school, etc.

  • What time of day you have the most energy to write (whether you’re more of an early morning, late night, or something in between person)

  • What time(s) of day you can afford to be the most consistent throughout the week

  • How long you can remain focused in one sitting and make the most of your time

  • What you need to motivate you (deadlines, accountability partners, types of goals, rewards, snacks, etc.)

Choosing the Right Time

This is where everything can go wrong or go right! If you work a 9-5 and you’ve got kiddos and pets demanding your attention from the moment they wake up until they go to bed, the best time for you may be early in the morning, when no one else is awake and you can afford to carve out some time to dedicate toward your craft. If you’re a high school student with classes in the morning and extracurriculars after school, maybe staying up just a bit later to write for an hour or two every day is what you can afford. College students with variable schedules, maybe the best time for you is to treat writing like a course and block out a time and space every day for you to do it.


Whatever you choose, try to make it both as consistent as possible and a time in which you can, to the best of your ability, create the right environment for whatever helps you to write.


Half the fight of starting any new habit or routine is discipline and commitment. Once you decide, don’t let up for at least a month. Protect that time even if it means sometimes canceling plans (so long as they’re not hugely important) or reading the next chapter of that new book later. Keeping consistent will get easier and more productive as you go. The hard part is getting started.


How Long to Spend Writing

This is where an awareness of your focus comes into play. If you’re someone who struggles to stay focused for a long period of time, you may find a more productive routine comes for you in the form of 20-30 minute chunks of time scattered throughout the day. If you’re a little crazy like me and you know you can sit down at a desk and work for eight hours at a time, great! Schedule the time you have for writing and protect it. You may have to experiment for a while until you find what works for you, and that’s perfectly fine. What I would recommend in that case, is committing to whatever new plan you may have for at least a week before switching things up again. More on that under (Winning the Uphill Battle).


Getting Started

Start smaller than you think is necessary. Generally, when we plan new goals to hit or routines, we’re excited. I guarantee you the person who wanted to stop drinking coffee will be way more fired up about that goal at 1pm on Saturday when they set the goal than they will be when they have to get up at 6am for work on Monday. The fastest way to drop a new goal is to burn out, and the quickest way to do that is to overwhelm yourself by jumping straight into the deep end.


Take the time you need to work up to the demands of a more rigorous writing routine before you get started on one. You can’t ask someone who’s never gone on a run in their life to start running 10 miles every day. Give yourself the grace and the time you need to be successful, whatever that may look like for you.


Winning the Uphill Battle

Discipline isn’t something we can just decide to have, it’s as much a skill as writing is, and just like you can’t expect an award-winning novel from your first draft, you’re not going to be perfect at a new routine the moment you start it. When you first start, you’ll need to find something to motivate yourself to make it happen. Did you set your writing session to be early in the morning but you’re struggling to get up? Set your alarm and put the phone across the room. It sounds awful, but it’ll get you out of bed! If you have a problem with Instagram reels pulling your focus when you try to write, turn off the notifications! Take it off your homescreen to help avoid the draw. If you prefer little rewards, plan them out! Ice cream every five chapters written. A new book for every 10,000 words (that’s dangerous for your savings but probably super effective!). Another option: find some critique partners through the writer community to send your work to once a week! Sometimes a deadline enforced by a writing group or accountability partner can be the difference between getting things done and staying stagnant.


Basically, do what you have to. Below are my best tips for keeping it up.

1-Commit

Tell the people in your life about the times they are not to disrupt you. If other people know about it, it’ll put a little pressure on you to keep it up, and a little pressure is good for something like this! Especially for people who want to make writing into a career, you’ll need to treat it with the same level of respect, dedication, and discipline as you would your job!


2-Work Your Way In

As previously discussed, nothing good will come of you forcing yourself to wake up at the crack of dawn out of nowhere and try writing for 3 hours. You’ll drop it faster than you decided to do it! Especially if you’re aiming for something you’re not used to, work your way in. You want to write for 3 hours straight? Great! Start with 1 hour minimum, then 2. Easing into it will help you get used to your new routine and will do more to help you keep it in the long run!


3-Wait to Make Changes

If your routine doesn’t work for you the way you’ve set it up, absolutely go in and make some changes. When it’s early on, though, it can be really easy to make those changes too early, to give up on something without enough time to truly test it. So, sign a contract with yourself. (Not literally, unless you wanna be extra official about it.) Commit to one week, one month, or something in between during which you REALLY give it your all. Then, if it doesn’t work, change it!


4-Be Clear (and Patient) about your Goals

Initially, when making your new routine, don’t worry about how much you get done. Your first priority should be consistency. Once you get into your routine, the words will come. So be patient with yourself! If you need to sit in front of your computer and hit your head on the keys for the first few days, do it. It will pay off.


5-Focus and Distraction

Today, distraction is everywhere, but there are just as many resources out there to help you manage it. Using apps like Study Bunny (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/study-bunny-focus-timer/id1478345385 ) and Flora (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/flora-green-focus/id1225155794 ) can help make your phone an asset instead of a distraction. Putting your phone on Do Not Disturb settings and airplane mode can help too, so long as you're able.


If you struggle with focus for long periods of time, try the Pomodoro Method! 25min focus, 5min break x2, then a 10min break. You can find free timers in online browsers for that (https://pomofocus.io), or you can use apps for it (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/focus-keeper-time-management/id867374917). (Sorry Samsung folks, I’m an Apple phone user.) Take a peek around your app store and check out online study methods, you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.


Recap

The essential ingredient to making a writing routine successful is to make it about you. Study your habits, what gets you excited to write, what environment works best for you and what time, and use that information to set yourself up for success! Leave room for frustration and bad days, but whatever you do, don’t give up if this is your dream. Also, remember that routines look different for everyone. If yours is just a word count or scene goal for each day to be met at any time, then that’s your routine! There’s no shame in a different kind of approach to writing. The only real success here is progress.


~Good luck and happy writing!!


20 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All

Should You Take Part in Camp NaNoWriMo?

If you follow writers on Instagram or Twitter, you have probably noticed them talk a lot about "Camp NaNoWriMo" (Camp NaNo for short) the last few months. And with Camp NaNo July just around the corne

Comments


bottom of page