Writers can have unpredictable days. On some, writing pours out effortlessly (and it’s beautiful when this happens). Yet on others, sentences require more determination. Certainly, writing doesn’t get any easier if you don’t start. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a fool’s errand, and even when that chapter wasn’t finished as quickly as expected, just a few pages here and there can maintain your momentum. There isn’t a perfect solution to less productive days, or to writer’s block. There are ways, however, to encourage the creative flow, to make inspiration come more easily.
Routine can be an enemy to writer’s block. An established routine supports a writer by providing familiarity, comfort, and mental cues that are conducive to writing. Everyone is different, and what works for one writer may not work for another. As you can see from this infographic, writing routines can be as unique and peculiar as the writers themselves. Though you can derive some ideas from other writers, you must find what works for you.
Here are 5 ways you can establish your own writing routine. Consider mixing and matching among them!
1) Choose a suitable environment
Technically, you could write anywhere, but what works best for you? Writing at a certain location? In a room with windows, or would windows be too distracting? Objects that inspire you can be placed in the working space, such as that stuffed animal you love, or the photo you took of the beautiful mountain scene when you went on vacation. Some people like to work with music on, while others prefer silence.
For those who enjoy working in cafe’s or other public places, noise wouldn’t be a problem, and may even be stimulating. You can even write outdoors in the fresh air, perhaps by the ocean.
2) Set dedicated time aside for writing
Is there a certain time of day when you work best? Mornings may work for some, while afternoons or evenings will be the most optimal for others. Availability may not always be possible for those with day jobs, or children. Regardless of the time of day that you choose to write, carve out a specific window of your day dedicated solely to writing, and stick to it.
3) Create Rituals
What can you do that will put you in a mood to write? Do you like to get up early to watch the sun rise, then start to write while sitting on your bed, in the blissful silence? Do you like to have a cup of your favorite tea as you write? Some prefer standing up while writing. You may like to write while you are on the move, such as during a walk, or on your commute to and from work (if motion sickness is not an issue). Physical activity such as going to the gym, running, or walking can do wonders for your creativity.
4) Remove perfectionism from your mind
The more you expect your writing to be perfect, the less bold you become when expressing yourself. Allow yourself to write unimpeded by both external interruptions as well as internal ones. Expecting that your first draft to be flawless will more than likely hurt your progress. Work constantly, as being sporadic with your efforts will hinder your focus.
5) Do what make your heart sing . . . and then come back to writing
If you find yourself staring relentlessly into a blank page, go ahead and do something that gives you joy. You can take breaks as necessary, as long as they aren’t distracting you or helping you procrastinate. Go do something relatively mindless, like cleaning your room, watering the plants, or sweeping the floor. Or plan to do what gives you joy, be it a long hike in the forest, listening to a favorite piece of music, or cooking an eclectic, delicious meal. Ideally this activity would be done outside of your dedicated writing time. Short breaks should be encouraged.
Remember, you cannot wait for a particular mood or inspiration to strike in order for you to write. You must make writing a regular habit. No matter what writing routine you establish, it can only help you if you show up to write.
Global English Editing has compiled the writing routines of 20 famous authors into this fun infographic. Do you see anything here that may work for you?
Sierra Delarosa is a musician, scientist and writer. She is the content manager for Global English Editing.