Want To Build A Successful Writing Routine? Here’s How.

One of the hardest parts of writing is finding a consistent routine. Inspiration can be fickle, and the demands of everyday life have a way of taking over every free minute. In an ideal world, each writer could move to their own secluded cabin in the woods and consult with the muse all day long. In reality, creating a writing routine means working around a million little things you have to do in order to make space for the creative life you crave.

Luckily, every writer has walked this path, and there are plenty of tried and true tips to help you establish a writing routine, no matter what your life looks like. Here are 11 helpful strategies to establish a productive writing routine.

1. Set a reasonable goal.

It may sound like a good idea to commit to writing 2,000 words per day, but do you actually have time for that? Jobs, kids, hobbies, and other commitments all eat up time, and if your writing goal doesn’t fit within your actual schedule, it may be difficult to achieve it. Think about how much time you truly have to write, and try to set the most achievable goal possible, rather than the most ambitious.

2. Try habit stacking.

If you have trouble sticking to your writing goals, try a technique called habit stacking. As Psychology Today explains, habit stacking means attaching a habit you want to create to another habit you already make time for each day. For example, writing could become something you do with your morning coffee or to start your pre-bedtime routine. This way, working writing into your schedule feels less like a huge change and more like an extension of your existing routine.

3. Give yourself permission to write badly.

Making progress on your work means showing up consistently, even on those days when you aren’t feeling it. Some writing days will be more challenging than others, but getting words on the page (even imperfect words) is better than leaving it blank. As author and cartoonist James Thurber once said, “Don’t get it right, get it written.”

4. Talk to other writers about their routines.

Every writer has their own unique creative process. Talking about it and learning what other writers do may inspire you to find what works for you. Stephen King, for example, prefers to work in the morning and takes an afternoon nap. Toni Morrison once said she liked to watch the sunrise, then do most of her work by hand on a yellow legal pad. There’s no “wrong way” to create a writing routine, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Listen to what other writers say about other subjects, too. For example, get inspired with these quotes about summer.

5. Have a plan for writer’s block.

Writer’s block can happen to anyone, but moving through it is the key to sticking with your routine. Assume writer’s block will happen at some point, and when it does, try one of these hacks to jumpstart your practice again:

  • Use writing prompts.
  • Freewrite for a specific amount of time.
  • Work on a different project.
  • Make a list of everything that could happen next in your work-in-progress.
  • Set a very low word count goal and don’t stop until you meet it.

6. Prioritize your projects.

Some writers prefer to only work on one project at a time, but that’s not always possible. If you have multiple projects or assignments, take some time to decide what you need to get done first. Devote your time to the highest priority work, rather than attempting to do everything at once and burning yourself out.

7. Be committed, but flexible.

You don’t have to write every day if that isn’t what works for you. Instead of stressing about unattainable daily goals, decide how often it’s actually possible for you to write and go from there. Many writers have other commitments, like full-time jobs or family needs. It’s okay if you can only write on weekends, for 20 minutes on your lunch break, or after the rest of the family goes to bed.

8. Make space to write.

Your writing ritual also includes where you write. If you have a specific space or specific items tied to the task of writing, those can become physical reminders to yourself that it’s time to get to work. For some, this may be a dedicated office space or writing nook. For others, it’s a favorite notebook, a preferred writing app, a particular spot on the couch, or even a go-to table at the local coffee shop. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to be uniquely yours.

9. Join a writing group.

Sometimes we get by with a little help from our friends, and that’s where a writing group comes in to play. Consider meeting up with writer friends you know at a designated time each week, or even connecting with new writers via local groups, the public library, on social media, or on dedicated writing platforms like NaNoWriMo. A writing group can help keep you accountable and offer valuable feedback as you make progress.

10. Try different writing methods.

There’s more than one way to get words onto the page. Your challenge is to find the method that is most productive for you. Some techniques other writers use may include:

  • Timed word sprints.
  • Morning pages, or freewriting each morning.
  • Creating an outline to guide your work.
  • Make lists of names, places, traits, and other ideas to get creativity flowing.
  • Use a writing tool to get instant feedback on your work.

11. Commit to “making time,” not “finding time.”

Writers are busy people just like everyone else, so creating a routine won’t happen by chance. It’s important to make your writing time a priority. Carve out space for it, set boundaries around it, and be uncompromising about meeting your goals. Don’t wait for writing time to magically appear because that may not happen. Ultimately, you want to create a writing routine because you have work to do and something to say. Make the time to get those words on the page!

Now that you have the routine down, follow these tips on how to improve your writing skills.

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