Establishing a routine can be an important part of the writing process. You can improve your productivity by sticking to a schedule that maximizes your creativity and keeps you focused.
Like most things in life, taking an undisciplined approach to your writing craft isn’t likely to get you very far. Harnessing your best ideas and translating them to a compelling narrative requires dedication and the continual refinement of your skills, and one of the best ways to achieve that is to establish a writing routine that takes advantage of your most creative and productive times of the day.
With these 10 tips for aspiring authors, you can create a writing routine that will benefit your craft and inspire creativity.
1. When are you most creative?
No one is bursting with creativity or feels energetic 24 hours a day, and most of us have commitments and various demands on our time. One of the first things to do when establishing a writing schedule is determine what time of day you feel you’re at your most creative.
Of course, there are other factors to consider. You might be buzzing with creativity in the morning, but you may also need to get the kids ready for school. You might have a few hours of free time in the evening, but after a long day of work, your mind and body are too tired to face a blank page. Consider your daily schedule, energy level, and when you feel creative, and then block the time that works for you.
2. Have a plan for writer’s block
If you haven’t already struggled with a bout of writer’s block, you will eventually. Writer’s block happens to all of us, whether we’re aspiring or accomplished authors, and the best way to deal with it is to prepare for it.
You might find it helpful to keep a doodle journal in which you can try stream-of-consciousness freewriting or keep a list of writing prompts handy. Other ways to deal with writer’s block include trying a completely different style of writing, doing other creative activities, or doing research for your book.
3. Find your ideal writing space
Finding the ideal space to hone your craft and flex your creative muscles goes a long way to keeping the words flowing. The most important characteristics for any space are that you’re comfortable in it, you can think clearly in it, and there are few (ideally zero) distractions.
If you have the facilities available, your writing space could be a fully kitted home office, home library, or a good old-fashioned study. If not, a comfortable armchair in a well-lit corner of an airy room could work just as well.
4. Set daily, weekly, and monthly word-count goals
Setting a daily word-count goal can be a great way to motivate yourself to write every day. It’s a more focused, disciplined approach than a vague directive of trying to “write daily.”
Think of your daily word count as a micro-goal. Then set weekly and monthly word-count goals, which you can think of as your larger goals and milestones. It’s important to set realistic, measurable goals for yourself and develop a writing routine that can accommodate them.
5. Create a writing schedule or calendar
When you’ve established the time slot that works best for you, create your personal writing schedule or calendar. Set a daily reminder on your phone, tablet, or computer; make a note in your diary or wall calendar; or highlight the time slot in your daily planner.
The trick is to make time to write. Doing this may require a change of mindset or a lifestyle adjustment. Examine your current habits and sleeping patterns, then make the necessary changes to give yourself the time you need. If you’re truly dedicated and passionate about your craft, you’ll make time for it — even if it’s only for 15 minutes early in the morning or at the end of the day.
6. Keep a diary of ideas and inspirations
Keeping a writing journal or diary is one of the best things you can do as a writer. It’s also something that can feed into and support your writing schedule. Your journal can take whatever form is most convenient for you. For some writers, a plain notebook is best, while for others, a phone app or a custom-embossed diary is the way to go.
Use your journal to make note of ideas, express your thoughts and feelings, experiment with different writing styles and structures, and to inspire yourself.
7. Do your research
Research is important, whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. If you’ve set your novel in Rome during the third century CE, research how people of various social strata lived and what buildings and landmarks were in place. If your story is set in modern-day London and a character walks from Piccadilly Circus to Westminster Bridge, look up the routes and how long they take to walk.
In addition to making research part of your schedule, organize and store your research in a way that makes it easily accessible.
8. Do interesting things
Support your writing schedule by doing interesting things that stimulate your creativity in other ways. Maybe that means creating a pre-writing ritual for yourself, which could be as simple as making a cup of coffee, listening to a particular song, or drawing and/or coloring in a mandala. Doing this can help your brain switch gears and get into writing mode.
Outside of your writing sessions, do things that inspire you or that you can work into your story. Join a walking tour of a historical section of the city or learn to make chocolate truffles by hand.
9. Diversify your writing projects
Experimentation is part of being a writer. Diversify your projects to allow yourself to experiment with different styles, forms, structures, genres, and approaches. In addition to doing the work, keep a record of your thoughts and impressions of the things you try. Be honest about what does and doesn’t work for you.
10. Join a writing community
Joining a writing community is one of the best ways you can stay inspired and motivated. It can help you sharpen your skills, try new approaches, and provide you with valuable feedback. Check your local community listings to find a writer’s circle or group in your town, attend workshops, join an online community, or participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
These 10 tips will put you on the way to creating a writing schedule that works for you. Remember, the only way it will happen is if you make it happen.
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