Part 2: Make Your New Writing Routine Absolutely Foolproof
Are you a writer who just can’t get a regular writing routine established? Do you want to write, but struggle to find the time for it or to beat distractions? If you’re ready to write more frequently, but just don’t know how to make it happen, this 5-part series can help.
I’ll share with you the exact steps I’ve taken over the last year and a half to create a daily writing practice that helped me write a 98,000-word novel. No shortcuts, no outlandish schemes, nothing you can’t do around your busy day-to-day life.
Just practical, real tricks to finally turn your dream of writing into your daily reality.
That’s where your writing practice starts, because if you know why it’s important and necessary for you to write at all, you can commit to it.
But how do you actually start? How do you make it so simple, you just can’t say no?
Well, you get real and remove every single barrier to entry standing between you and your writing. And then you open a notebook and put words inside of it. Magic!
But really, in order for your writing practice to turn into something you’ll stick with long term, you MUST make it easy to do – especially in the beginning. This is non-negotiable.
Make. It. Easy.
Whatever you think the “perfect” writing conditions are, forget them. (Goodbye fantasy of the 3-hour-long, fully inspired writing done at a tidy antique desk by an attic window, through which comes a perfectly warm breeze and just the right amount of midday sunlight, after which you stare at 4500 polished, ready-to-publish words.)
When you’re in the beginning phases of starting a regular writing routine, it’s best to have one simple expectation: Write something creative for yourself every single day. Period.
One sentence typed into your iPhone as you’re falling asleep counts. A whole afternoon doing writing prompts at the coffee shop with your laptop counts. Working out two scenes that turn into a chapter of your novel counts. But don’t forget: one word counts. Really. One word. One sentence. One page.
That all counts.
You might be asking yourself how it could possibly count, right? One word isn’t going to get you anywhere. In fact, one word is basically nothing, so why bother?
It’s one more word than you had earlier, isn’t it? Would you rather have one word or zero words? It’s really up to you.
In the beginning of my writing practice, it didn’t matter what I was writing down. It simply mattered that I was writing something.
It’s not about the output at first – it’s just about forming the habit of writing so that eventually you no longer struggle with writing.
But it just has to be easy. Trust me. Please. Make it easy for yourself. Make it so easy, you don’t hem and haw about it. You just do it, get it done, and move onto everything else in your life that needs your attention.
Because I know you’re busy – I get it. I’m busy. Everyone I know is busy. Who isn’t busy?
But get real. Take your day-to-day life into consideration and figure out how much time you could, at minimum, write each day to simply check “Write, dang it” off your to-do list.
Do you have ten minutes before bed? Twenty minutes at lunch? An hour on the train? Two minutes max before you turn the computer on and start work in the morning?
Your writing routine will be foolproof if you’re honest with yourself about what you can manage in a day, and when you accept small amounts of imperfect writing as enough.
Part of the secret is losing the preciousness around writing. It’s not something that needs to be done ceremoniously.
Do it standing up at the counter while your coffee brews.
Make a list of all the words you love.
Write down a line of dialogue you overheard a barista say to a customer about his tie.
Write a haiku.
Do it as your eyes are starting to shut at night. Do it in the quiet pre-dawn hours when your house is silent. Do it in line at the pharmacy as you type it into an email draft to yourself.
If you can manage just one sentence a day, that’s a paragraph after a week and a page after a month. Or it could be seven lines of a poem at the end of the week, or a series of disconnected lines that spark a short story.
You can write one creative sentence a day, right? I know you can.
And if you can do ten minutes a day, that’s a pretty great start too. It’s manageable, and I bet you’ll get a whole page written in ten minutes. You might surprise yourself.
Just keep the expectations low. Your aim isn’t to write perfectly polished sentences right out of the gate. Your aim is to write any sentence or sentences that you can, because then you’ve done it and if you’ve done it, you win. YOU WIN!
I kept my writing practice as bare-bones as possible at first until I started picking up momentum. It took a few weeks, but after being consistent, I found the seed of a novel inside pages and pages of freewriting and prompts. I didn’t do anything fancy – I just wrote as much or as little as I could each day.
Keeping it basic worked like magic.
The first two or three weeks were hard – I wanted to quit almost daily. I really thought I couldn’t do it. Write for ten minutes? WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO??
(I had promised myself 100 days straight of writing – no excuses – but more on that next week).
There were days when ten minutes turned into twenty because once I started, I wanted to keep writing. In the beginning, I honestly spent more time resisting than I spent writing!
This is why it’s gotta be easy. Foolproof. Simple. Do it first thing if you know you’ll feel to resistant by the evening, once the day has worn you out. Be honest about how much time you really have. Lowball. Underestimate. Keep your notebook and pen handy and just write one sentence.
Then, boom, you’re done.
Your turn! How much time do you REALLY have on the average day to write? Can you commit to writing one word? One sentence? One page? Share below. I’d love to hear!
If you found this helpful, share it with other writers who might need it too.