SETTING A WRITING ROUTINE
Recently I've talking about writing every day (found here) and I know I've touched on writing routines before, but I wanted to talk some more about getting yourself into a routine because I feel like a lot of the advice is telling people to just write every day and then they'll have their routine. This isn't wrong, part of setting a routine is repeating it enough times that your brain recognises it, but I do feel like telling people that the only way to do that is to sit down and write every single day, is gonna lead to a lot of burnout and have new writers forcing themselves into a routine that doesn't suit them, and doesn't help their writing.
So what can you do if you're new to writing and really want to make it something that you do frequently? How do you make it part of a routine? And how do you go about it without stretching yourself too thin and burning yourself out? How do you make it sustainable over a long period of time? I can tell you that writing every day might work in the short term, but not over months and months, we, as humans, are just not built that way. I thought that I would give you some tips when it comes to setting that writing routine, and doing it in a way that, I hope, is healthy for you, your writing, and your mental health.
#1 TRY TO PLAN & START SMALL
I know that anyone who's been on the blog for a while knows that I plan a whole ton when it comes to my writing time, or my time in general. I do this because it allows me to know what I'm supposed to be doing and when, and all that goes with it. Setting a writing routine, or any routine, is easier to do if you plan for it. When I say start small, I do mean start small. If you're someone with lots of free time, that's less of an issue, but if you've got other commitments, like a day job, or kids, or anything like that, you might not have much time free as it is, and trying to squeeze writing into every small chunk of time you do have is just gonna burn you out, and we don't want that.
So, start small, choose a time frame that suits you, it can be as small as five minutes before bed, or when the kids are napping and the like. It doesn't have to be a huge chunk of time, because sometimes you get into that mindset where it must be hours and hours or else it doesn't count, and that's just not true. However long you choose, plan for it, tell people that you need this time to write, but at the same time, it's okay to sacrifice it if there's a problem, or an emergency. You gotta do what works for you, and that's okay.
#2 KNOW WHICH PROJECT YOU'LL BE WORKING ON
This applies more to people who are working on more than one thing, but it can also apply to those who don't. Like if you're planning to spend five minutes writing a scene, know ahead of time what scene and if you outline and plan, what's going to happen in it, make sure you have that outline with you, and if you don't plan, or outline, then try and think about what you're going to have happen a bit before the writing starts. This allows you to pretty much jump into the writing and get yourself off to a good start.
#3 ALLOW FOR DAYS OFF
Listen, it wouldn't be me if I didn't advocate for breaks. If you set a schedule to write for five minutes for five days, then you should be taking time off. Even if you don't write one of those days, you still need to be taking that time off. Time off isn't something that needs to be earned, it's very much something you should have by default. You are human, and things will come up, and that's okay, you need to take time to recharge and relax and anyone telling you different is wrong, yes, even if that someone is your own inner critic.
#4 REMEMBER THAT IT TAKES AS LONG AS IT TAKES, AND THAT'S OKAY
Building a writing routine takes time, you are not going to do it twice and then all set. It takes time, and effort, and it may take longer than you'd like, it may not, but it's good to be prepared for it to take a while. It doesn't matter how much time you put into your writing sessions, it's just gonna take as long as it takes, and that's okay. It might feel like everyone else is already there, but I promise you they're not. I have gone from one routine to the other throughout my writing time, and it always is a bit of an adjustment, but when you reach that golden moment of having a solid routine, it's all worth it. So be kind to yourself, and remember to just let it take whatever time it needs.
So there we go, those are my four tips on setting a writing routine. I feel like now that Camp NaNoWriMo is under way, people will be doing their own thing, and reigniting their love of writing. But just remember that you don't have to write every single day for the rest of your life. Even if you do it for a period, just keep taking those breaks so that you don't burn out.
Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!
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