Hello! This one is geared towards those of you who have taken a break from your writing routine (like if you went on vacation), those of you who want to start writing, or those of you who want to be a writer but can’t consistently write. Let’s talk.
Right off the bat let’s understand two things: writing is not easy and you must write consistently to be a writer. That’s it. That’s what we’re walking into this post with.
The problem is that writing requires an emotional connection, a deep sense of creativity, a desire to be heard, and the ability to focus. Strangely enough, all these traits tend to contradict each other. Being emotional connected to the story means not adhering to our schedule because of those connections. Having a sense of creativity means we also get distracted.
The key is to figure out how to get them working together.
That’s a personal thing. That’s a thing that just takes a lot of time and practice. And yeah, it can be really discouraging. Settling into a writing routine for me was very similar to overcoming insomnia. There was a lot of me forcing myself to do things. A lot of setup in terms of room design. A lot of trial and error (heavy on the error).
But eventually, I found what worked for me. I stuck to it. And I treated it like a necessity, not like something that was a choice.
That’s the first step to settling into a writing routine whether you’re just starting or you’ve taken a little break. Treat it like necessity. You have to write. Not you should write. You need to work on project. Not you’d like to. “I’ll go out for a few minutes” turns into “I’m not going out tonight” when you know you need to write instead.
It’s a job. It’s a passion. It’s a career. Treat it like one.
Too many people walk into writing thinking it’s easy peasy and it is not. It’s one of the most grueling things a person can do. You spend endless hours working on something only to turn around and tear it apart. Hand it to a bunch of others to have them tear it apart. Then sell it to have people tear it apart some more. And the work is so hard.
So treat it like a job. Don’t treat it like a fun little hobby and still say you’re a writer. You write because you are a writer. If you cannot consistently show up to the page, you’re a hobby writer.
Second step, once you’ve had a good talking with yourself is to set realistic expectations and continue to adjust those.
When I go on vacation I always, always, always drop my word count right after and build it back up. Similarly to running and logging miles, if you take time off, coming back into something too hot and heavy will burn you out and set you back.
Set up a realistic word count. They way I used to do this before I was familiar with how much I can write in a sitting without burning it, is to get on a computer and write. Don’t look at a clock or how many words you’ve typed. Stop the moment you get distracted. The moment you feel like you’re losing interest or you’re getting a little bit frazzled. You’ll know when it is. Then look at how many words you’ve written.
That’s your max in a sitting.
Don’t let yourself exceed that at one time. The way I’m able to get around this is to plan exercise in between writing sessions. So I’ll write for about an hour straight, go workout, and write for another hour. This works really well for me. I’m able to continue writing for that time period while maintaining my focus and my mindset. You might find yourself being above or below that time. Whatever works for you!
And don’t forget to keep in check. If you consistently write, writing for an hour might suddenly feel really easy, so add some more time but do break it up so you aren’t sitting for too long.
Third thing to do, is to find your medium and time of day.
For me, I have two mediums. I love writing on typewriters and I love writing with fountain pens. I write everything on those first because it keeps me happy. It helps me remember my passion for it. And it just so happens I do my best writing on those. I don’t put out great content if I type it up first.
And time of day. This one is variable. Mine changes depending on season and schedule. I can write just about any time of day, but I’ve found that I do novel writing best in the morning, poetry best mid-afternoon, and short stories at night. I don’t know why, but that’s the way of it.
So I write on my novel every day in the morning, religiously. I take weekends off. Even if I know I’m going to write crap, I write. Sometimes I even put asterisks around it because I know I’ll want to delete it when I type it up. I write my poetry in the afternoon with a cup of coffee for half an hour to an hour depending on the day because some days, I’m too stressed/busy to do that and meditation will take priority. But that’s scheduled in. Finally, I have freedom at night and on weekends. I can write as much as I’d like or as little as I’d like. I let my short stories be my passion projects. I let them call whenever they please and I’ll write them at night.
What counts is this: keep showing up.
If you schedule a time or a word count, make that date. Don’t stand up your writing. Don’t ignore it because someday it’ll ignore you. Be there when you say you’ll show up and if you can’t show up, tweak your schedule. Try again. Eliminate distractions. Work for it. Show up. Be consistent.
Be a writer. Not a wisher.