Build a Writing Routine

October 18, 2018


Have you ever heard the phrase "creatures of habit"? I'm sure you have, and I am also sure that you realize that humans are creatures of habit. Habits, and routines, give us a sense of comfort. Routines add structure and purpose to our daily activities. Here is something that you may not know: according to Northwestern Medicine, "Having a routine can greatly improve your health." Further, the lack of routines can lead to stress, life complications, general unhappiness, and "often, no routine means you simply run out of time, leaving things undone and not making the most of your time." 


Take a look at the five steps I've listed below that, if applied as part of your writing routine, can effectively improve your #amwriting life!

  1. Meditation - I meditate at work everyday. It is a calming-method introduced to our office by one of our VPs. I never considered it as a pre-writing prep-step until I saw Tiffany Brownlee’s tweet, in which she proclaimed that meditating before a writing session helped her words flow out with ease. In hindsight, it doesn’t make sense that the effectiveness of meditation prior to a writing session didn’t dawn on me until her tweet, considering how much of a difference it makes in my work life.  

  2. Organization - I recently tweeted that “a clean space = a clean mind”. It is impossible for me to free my mind enough for the delving needed to draw my words out if I am sitting in a cluttered space. It doesn't take being a neat-freak, but a sense of order puts the mind at order. As it is, I generally have hundreds of thoughts running through my head at any given time—to-dos, book ideas, bills, etc.—I can’t then have items cluttering my workspace too. 

  3. Set the mood - Writers are artistic creatures, and artistic creatures need artistic stimulation. Create a music playlist! Take it a step further and create a playlist that acts as a soundtrack to your work-in-progress! Listening to a playlist curated for your characters, your settings, and your drama; works as a motivator.  If this doesn't convince you to use music as a pre-writing action, and as a motivator while in the act of writing, then consider this statement by the University of Maryland, "Music is an effective stress reducer in both healthy individuals and people with health problems. Research finds that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels in heart patients."

  4. Find the perfect nook. It's important to have some form of writer's space for yourself; a writer needs a spot where they feel comfortable enough to lose themselves in their work and forget all about their surroundings. It doesn't have to be an office; it doesn't even have to be at home. Some find comfort in the rich fragrance of coffee shops, others in the quiet stacks of their local libraries. The actual space doesn't matter as much as the mood that it puts you in. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King explains that he had always wanted a massive desk in the middle of his office, so he bought one and put it right smack in the middle of the room. Later in life he came to a realization that he shares with us, "It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around."

  5. Stop worrying about time. Worrying about how much time, or lack there of, you put towards your writing works as an inhibitor. When you worry about the lack of time you have for writing, you feed negative energy to your project and waste precious time. In a Psychology Today contribution, Dr. Alex Lickerman says that anxiety about time may be anxiety about meaning. He poses this:  " ... if you also suffer from time anxiety, I'd encourage you to stop and ask yourself if you aren't really more anxious about what your life means. About what you're doing with it." Imagine all the time you spend worrying, that would be better spent putting down ten words into your project. Instead of worrying, start appreciating any and every word you put down, whenever you put them down. Cherish those moments no matter how minuscule they may seem. Taking steps towards a more fulfilling writing life is as much about what you do as what you don’t do. Not worrying about, but enjoying the process, makes all the difference. 

Happy writing, friends!

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