Creating a Writing Routine: Tips to Help You Stay Focused and Productive
When Maya Angelou was still writing, she rented and kept a hotel room in every town she lived in. She would rent a hotel room for a few months, leave home at 6, and try to be at work by 6:30. She would stay there until around 12:30 and then go home to "try to breathe." The next day, she would look at the writing around five and have an orderly dinner—"a proper, quiet, lovely dinner." She did this all over again the next day.
With the demands of everyday life, finding the time and discipline to write can be daunting. While we don't expect you to adopt a writing routine as strenuous as Maya Angelou's, creating and sustaining one is essential to improving your craft and achieving your writing goals. We have some tips to help you establish a writing routine that works for you.
Set a Writing Goal
Before establishing a routine, you need to know what you're working towards. Setting a writing goal can help you focus your efforts and give you a sense of direction. Whether it's completing a certain number of pages every day or finishing a draft by a specific date, having a clear goal in mind can motivate you to write consistently. Stephen King is famous for his disciplined writing habits. He supposedly writes for six hours daily, even when he's not inspired!
Find Your Best Writing Time
Everyone has a time of day when they feel most productive and creative. Some writers are morning people, while others are more productive in the evening. Experiment with different writing times to find what works best for you. Once you've found your best writing time, try to schedule your writing sessions at that time whenever possible. Ernest Hemingway was another writer known for his strict routine. He would wake up at 5:30 am and write for six hours before taking a break. He would then continue writing for another two hours in the evening. As I said, you don't need to stick to an extreme schedule; find one that works for you.
Create a Writing Space
A dedicated writing space can help you get into the writing mindset and minimise distractions. Whether it's a home office or a corner of your local coffee shop, find a space where you feel comfortable and focused. Ensure your writing space is well-lit and has all the necessary supplies, such as pens, paper, and a laptop.
Set Realistic Goals
When you're just starting, set realistic writing goals. Don't try to write a novel in a month if you've never completed a short story before. Instead, set goals that challenge you but are still achievable. Starting small can help you build momentum and confidence as a writer.
Accountability can be a powerful motivator. Consider joining a writing group or finding a writing partner who can help you stay on track. Set deadlines and share your progress with someone who can offer feedback and support.
Distractions are the enemy of a productive writing routine. Try to eliminate as many distractions as possible during your writing sessions. Turn off your phone, close unnecessary tabs on your computer, and let your family members or roommates know you're not to be disturbed.
Writing can be a mentally and emotionally exhausting pursuit. It's important to practice self-care to avoid burnout. Take breaks whenever required, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Incorporating self-care into your routine can help you stay healthy and motivated as a writer.
Establishing a writing routine takes time and effort, but it's essential to becoming a successful writer. By setting goals, finding your best writing time, creating a dedicated writing space, setting realistic goals, being accountable, eliminating distractions, and practising self-care, you can create a routine that works for you. Remember, the key is to be consistent and persistent in your efforts. Happy writing!