Consistency and prioritizing our writing are so hard, aren’t they? You would think it gets easier, but honestly, it just gets different. Here are five ways I’ve found helpful to maximize the time I set aside to write, and hopefully, something in here helps you too. (Hint: It’s all about developing a creative ritual!)
I set out a glass of water for myself, set my alarm, and make sure my tea kettle is full. Usually, I even put the teabag in the mug the night before.
All of this feels like self-care, and it is.
I am thinking ahead to what will make this process smoother, understanding myself and my own resistance and ensuring my ritual of creative exploring is protected. (I’m also doubling the good vibes by adding the drinking water habit to my routine. Bonus health points!)
Maybe I will get some words in. Maybe I’ll outline a new idea. Maybe I’ll read Rumi, sip my hot Chai tea and watch the darkness outside my window lighten while an idea percolates. The point is: this creative ritual opens the space for more.
2. Play for Creative Payouts
Writing can be serious business—if you’re a journalist covering the local crime beat or an essayist trying to communicate an urgent global crisis. But for most of us, this isn’t going to get us out of bed in the morning.
Our creative ritual needs to be something we look forward to.
You might save the world with your writing, but let’s first save your motivation to get in the chair. I am here to remind you that this writing thing is supposed to be fun. You’ll have to trust me that if you’re having fun, you’re more likely to keep coming back for more. There is no guilt or shame in this, only acceptance.
Leave the drudgery and rules and expectations and disappointments for the day job.
3. Plan Your Creative Space
The space where we write needs to be thought out too. This creative ritual is like making a date with your inner artist. Where does she want to be?
Try asking yourself, what do I need to do to take that corner of the house for myself?
You might need to move the kid’s homework desk or insist someone else make space for you. You don’t need to be published or be making millions of dollars to do this.
It is your inalienable human right to pursue what makes you happy. And if you can’t carve out a physical space to do that in your own home, what hope do you have of taking up enough space to get a book written?
Take the space. Make it yours. I use plants, trinkets from trips that inspire me, candles, and even the artwork around my desk to make me happy and ready to enact my creative ritual.
You’d be surprised how quickly those minutes and hours become so life-giving and affirming you can’t imagine what dry, boring life you were living before this practice, this creative ritual.
4. Pick A Reward
We need to celebrate the wins. Every. Small. Win.
Did you show up for yourself and your writing today? Amazing. For fun, make a list of ways you can celebrate. A hot bath, a movie, a cupcake from that fancy place around the corner.
You deserve it. It doesn’t have to cost money. In fact, it’s better when it doesn’t.
Let me give you fair warning; you’re going to want to skip the celebration. It’s going to feel silly and selfish and indulgent. It isn’t. It’s an integral part of keeping this creative ritual promise to yourself.
Don’t believe me? Here is a quick Youtube clip from BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything.
You’ve got a nice cozy creative ritual established, you look forward to that special time, and that’s usually when the poo hits the fan. It’s okay. Let that poo hit. That’s just a plot twist.
Even though I write at other times of the day, the early morning is where I have found the most consistency. Do you know why? The poo usually doesn’t hit until the world wakes up. Between 5 and 6 am, the world is usually poo-less. Unless you have a baby in diapers, then all bets are off.
As I write this, my little one has come out of his room because he’s woken early and wants his mama. Instead of finishing this article before the world woke up, I’m cuddling a toddler back to sleep. What can you do?
Life doesn’t go according to plan, and neither will your writing life.
The point is, you keep trying. Keep iterating, keep protecting this life-giving practice not because you think it will make you money (boring!) but because you can know yourself and the world in no better way than to have a consistent creative ritual in your life.
As usual, Elizabeth Gilbert says it best:
A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Tell us in the comments: How have you built a creative ritual around your writing?
Angela Yeh is an East Coast Canadian native that lives and works in the great state of Texas. Angela is a black belt wanna-be who loves to garden, write about magic, and eat cake. Her debut YA fantasy novel, A Phoenix Rises, is a finalist in the Dante Rossetti Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction. She lives with her husband, two lovely human children, and three cranky fur babies. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram or on her website.