Establish a Writing Routine

By Claire Zhang

We need many things to become productive writers, such as inspiration, creativity, dedication, and an open mind. However, the most important and indispensable thing that a writer needs is a writing routine.

Without a routine, it’s hard to make writing a regular habit; without a routine, it’s hard to steadily produce writing and get better at it. Like most things in life, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Every writer works differently and the same writing routine will not work equally well for all people. For those who haven’t written for a long time, establishing a writing routine is extremely crucial to getting you back in the writing zone.

1. Get the right mindset

Our creative life is always there for us. Do not worry that you have “lost” your writing talent if you have not been able to stick to a writing schedule for a while. Think about something that you usually do to help yourself relax without tuning out or distracting yourself. For example, you can go for a walk, or you can stop looking at clocks, watches and even cell phones for several days. Try to meditate every day, before you turn on your computer to write. Even a small thing, like a moment of mindful eating – like preparing your favourite meal and eating it slowly while savouring the taste – will also help you reconnect to your creative life.

Also, keep that in mind that you are a unique writer. You have your special individuality and talent. There is no need to compare yourself with other writers. The blank page is intimidating, no doubt, but fear is common among all the writers. All you need is to redefine the definition of fulfillment, and make it all about your personal creative practice. Enjoy the experience of writing. If you hold to your writing routine, you will be on track soon.

Other than that, you should know the best methods as well as your limits. It may take a while for you to find which method works best for you to get started to write. As we all know, it’s not as simple as sitting down and writing solidly until a certain word count or time limit is achieved. If you are not sure how you want to settle your routine, it is better to try out several methods and compare the results. Also, be aware of your creative limits. Once you are struggling to compose even the simplest of sentences, you’ve worked too hard! That is a sure sign to step back and relax. When your energy is running out, stop and wait for another time to continue.

2. Set goals and establish your writing schedule

Before you get started, the questions you need to ask yourself is: What are the goals you want your routine to help you achieve? When is the deadline? Vague routines like “write every day” will not help much. You must have something concrete on your agenda. When you are working towards particular goals and you have some checkpoints or milestones on the way, it’s much easier to formulate a successful writing routine based around these specific goals. Then take a good hard look at where you’re spending your time each day and try to find when you can schedule in a little writing time. Getting real about your writing time means establishing for yourself your goals. If you know why you are doing it, you are more likely to carve out writing time for yourself.

3. Create a happy place for writing

If you are able to have the free time to write, the next step is to find a comfortable place to write. Your dedicated writing space can be anything from a home office, to a desk or comfortable chair in the corner of a room. You may prefer to write in cafes or libraries. Whatever it is, it must be a special area for you where no one will bother you and you can be fully dedicated to writing. More than that, there could be something like a background music, a cup of tea, or a simple five minutes of meditation to clear your mind to help you get into the writing zone.

4. Back up your work

One more important tip is to make sure your computer has a good backup system at the very beginning. You may need an automatic backup system in place while you are writing. It is always nice to feel safe that all of your hard work are backed up and will never get lost. Thanks to the advanced technology we have nowadays, you have many options such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Always remember to make several copies of your work.

After following these steps, if you still feel unconfident about reconnecting to your writing, you can start simply by writing a letter to yourself. You will find the thoughts just come out and you have a lot to say to yourself. Try to keep that natural flow of your ideas. Story is just a state of mind.

Why not get started right now?