Eleven Tips for Creating a Feel-Free Writing Routine
LISTEN TO TODAY'S ARTICLE:
Building a consistent creative practice is key to achieving our writing goals.
But with all the chaos of life, establishing a writing routine is often far from easy. With a scarcity of time, energy, and motivation alike, it’s easy to guilt ourselves for skipping writing sessions or outputting uninspired work. But rather than give into creative blues, how can we build writing routines that leave us feeling free? Let’s break down my top tips in today’s article, writers!
Learn to prioritize writing in your life…
The first step toward building a writing routine that works well for you is to take measures to prioritize writing in your life. Let’s take a look at how we can do so from a few different angles:
Tip #1: Give yourself permission.
For some, writing is a pleasure in which they freely indulge. But for others, there’s a measure of guilt that comes with making space for creativity. Often, this guilt emerges from concerns about how we’re spending our time. Are we misusing hours better spent with our children, on work that pays the bills, with friends or on exercise?
This may certainly be the case in some situations, but it’s important to recognize that it’s okay to spend time feeding your creative passions. You’ll never feel truly alive and fulfilled until you do.
Tip #2: Get real about your writing time.
Think you don’t have time to write? Think again. Most of us have more than enough time to slip a little writing into our days or weeks, yet we fail to do so as the siren call of social media scrolling, Netflix browsing, and other such unnecessary activities plague our schedules.
If you’re ready to make writing a priority in your life, take a good hard look at where you’re spending your time each day. See if you can’t identify pockets of potential writing time or rearrange your schedule to create them.
Tip #3: Make Sacrifices.
We’ll never have the time to do all the things we want to do in life. With that in mind, it’s important to recognize that you’ll likely have to make some sacrifices for your writing life.
Now’s the time to reevaluate your priorities. I’d suggest creating a list of your top five, which may look a little like this: 1) pay the bills, 2) spend time with loved ones, 3) eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, 4) write my dang book, and 5) do whatever else may be important to me.
If your list of priorities far exceeds a top five, it may be time to get serious about what you really want to do with your life. Is writing a book truly important to you? If so, are willing to make sacrifices to prioritize that goal?
Tip #4: Find Your Creative Groove.
Some writers can sneak in a few words at nearly any time, perfectly content to build a slow and steady daily writing habit. But for others, finding a creative groove takes more time. If you’re someone who needs a good while to get into the zone, it’s okay for consistency to mean something different for you.
Whether you’re completing two or three big writing sessions in a week or making the time to pound out a few words each day, what matters most is finding a consistent practice in the long run.
Organize your physical & digital workspaces…
Perhaps this is the minimalist in me, but no writing routine would feel truly freeing if my physical and digital workspaces were cluttered with unnecessary junk and avoidable distractions. If you feel the same, use the following tips to build a healthy working relationship with your personal writing space:
Tip #1: Get Your work together.
Several years ago, my work was a mess. I had a plethora of poorly organized notes spread across the pages of notebooks and computer files, various drafts of chapters all poorly named, and no true sense of some much needed visual organization. And this was affecting my work, to be sure.
Taking the time to get my crap together wasn’t fun if I’m honest. I had to wade through mountains of messy notes and computer files, condensing, reorganizing, and importing all of this into Scrivener for the epic organization it provides.
But in completing this massive task, I’ve never felt more in control of my projects. And I no longer struggle to stay organized, either. All of the time I used to devote to hunting down the right notes or drafts, I now spend writing up a storm, and that feels amazing!
Tip #2: Adopt an automatic backup system.
Writing is no easy task, and there’s nothing more terrifying than losing all of your hard work. I used to spend much of my writing time worried that I’d forget to back up my work when I was done. Now, I have an automatic backup system in place that ensures I can fully devote all of my mental energy to writing and writing alone.
My solution? Dropbox. By housing all of my writing-related files in the downloadable Dropbox folder, my work automatically updates in the cloud every time I press save. Personally, I’m also a fan of Backblaze cloud storage, which works similarly, and I know other writers love making use of Google Drive.
Tip #3: Create a Writing Happy place.
If you’re lucky enough to have the free time to write from the comfort of your home, try creating a personal writing retreat — a special place or atmosphere dedicated specifically to writing. This may be at a desk, in bed with low lighting, on your couch with a mug of tea. Whatever helps you get in the zone.
If you’re often forced to sneak in writing elsewhere or under less than ideal conditions, however, explore triggers that help you find a groove despite distractions. This could be music that drowns out the din of the subway, a special drink you have on hand only when you write, or even a simple five minutes of meditation to clear your mind before you dive in.
Find a healthy writing mindset…
You’ve chosen to make writing a priority in your life, you’ve found the time to make it happen, and you’ve created as ideal of a physical and digital workspace as you can manage. If you still don’t feel confident in your ability to build a creative practice, however, it may be time to tackle your mindset:
Tip #1: Change Your Viewpoint.
Often, building a writing habit requires that we deny ourselves other pleasures, and so we tell ourselves that we can’t indulge until we’ve finished our writing for the day. But the word “can’t” can be incredibly limiting. I can't watch TV. I can't go to that party. I can’t scroll Instagram…
“Can’t” leaves us craving what we shouldn’t have and feeling guilty when we mess up. So instead of saying that you “can’t,” try saying that you “don’t.” I don’t watch TV until I’ve written my words for the day. I don’t go to parties that conflict with my writing deadlines. I don’t scroll Instagram because I know it’s a procrastination trigger for me.
Where “can’t” leaves us feeling deprived, “don’t” helps us feel empowered in our choice to pursue our writing goals with intention.
Tip #2: Figure out your motivation triggers.
The blank page is intimidating, no doubt. If you often find yourself struggling to show up and get the work done, know that you aren’t alone. Procrastination is common among even the most passionate of writers, and many love the experience of having written more than writing itself.
Still, we need to overcome this procrastination if we’re to rock our writing routines, which means it’s time to figure out how we can motivate ourselves to action. Motivation triggers can come in the forms of a self-imposed deadline, a reward or punishment system, a little epic goal-setting, and more!
Tip #3: Know Your limits.
We only have so much creative energy to go around. No matter how badly we’d like to write, write, write, we’re only setting ourselves up for disaster if we don’t heed the signs of writing burnout.
These signs may look a little different for every writer, but generally, if you’re struggling to compose even the simplest of sentences, you’ve worked too hard. And when writing burnout hits, you can throw your writing routine out the window.
Going forward, take care to recognize and honor your creative limits. This may mean taking a short break from your regularly scheduled writing routine, spending more time filling your creative well, or simply cutting back on your daily or weekly goals for your writing life.
Tip #4: Get Real About What WRiting Success Means to you.
You are a writer —and you are your own writer. The more confident you grow in your love of the craft and the more you refuse to compare yourself with other writers, the more fulfillment you’ll find in your personal creative practice. And the definition of fulfillment? That’s personal to you as well.
Building a feel-free writing routine begins with understanding what writing success means to you. Do you know what you want from your writing life? Do you know why you want it? Discover these truths, then learn to love every step in your journey to make that version of success your reality. You’ve got this, writer.
Building a creative practice that suits your stories, your style, and your schedule will likely take a bit of time and exploration, but don’t be afraid to invest in this experiment. In finding the tools, tips, and techniques that work for you, you’ll build a writing routine that leaves you feeling free to flourish.