Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Well Written Path

Have you ever noticed what creatures of habit us 'people' really are? Oh, we try to fight it, we try to deny it, we give it a bad name saying we get into ruts.  Writers can be even worse.

But realistically, if you use it properly, routine is a good thing. They give us writers a path to follow and create a rhythm to our lives that leads to accomplishing things like writing books - you know, actually finishing what you began writing.
It's pretty damn tough, finishing writing a book.  Heck, it can be tough just posting this blog each week.  But if you get in the habit, if you create the routine in advance you'll breeze through the writing you wish to accomplish, get it done without the struggle common to so many.

And how do you do that; set a schedule, get things done? Well, the way I accomplish it is to set a time to write and stick to it. Give myself a goal and an assignment in my writing to accomplish each day and get it done.  Focus. I keep short lists of that day's writing-associated tasks by my computer. If I run up a self-imposed or outside-imposed deadline and something doesn't get done, that becomes the first thing on the list for the next day's writing assignments.

Part of the secret is to make writing part of every day.  I've found over the years if I attempt to clear a calendar day just for writing, if I make it a big deal, if I put a lot of pressure on myself to 'write' for that day, then progress is stunted and the words I produce are not as good either.  It's much better if I have my own little assignments for myself each day. Motivation can surge and evaporate. You have a book you want to get written, you're enthusiastic one day,not so much the  next.  If you have routines, schedules, little things in place to help keep you on your path and moving, you'll be much more likely to sit down and write.

A few years ago I had a student I was teaching in an online romance writing class and mentioned the idea of routines. She Emailed back that one of the things she did was to actually ritualize her writing time. She sat down, lit a candle, paused to clear her mind and then began. When she was done she blew the candle out.  Symbolic, no? It's a matter of incorporating into your day what you want to do. You might grab a cup of coffee, turn on your favorite creativity-inducing music and begin writing, then end with washing the cup. A quick entry in a journal to warm up might be your routine. Whatever works.

When I was a 'part-time' writer and held a full time job during the day, my ritual was to come home, eat a quick dinner with husband, take time to wash dishes, then skip TV and head over to my desk to write for two hours. Weekdays only. Weekends were 'us' time for me and my husband (only exception was if I got a plum assignment and there was a pressing deadline).

So put writing on your 'to do' list, give yourself an assignment, your overall goal and that smaller goal of what you want to accomplish in that small bite of time you've set aside for your writing and maybe ritualize it with some routine that signals you're getting down to writing.

Oh, and one more suggestion.  It can be tough to get rolling, get those ideas to flow when you first sit down at your computer to write so, when you're about to finish for the day, when you're still enjoying that flow of creativity in what you've written, that's the time to decide what you'll write the next time. Jot a few notes right there on the screen at the end of what you've written so you'll know what direction you were headed in and what you want to accomplish next. Make it a habit, yep, another routine.

Most writers know that finding time to write can be one of the hardest things to do. But, believe me, the more you do it, the easeier it will be.  And creating habits and routines to keep yourself on the writing path will be one of the best things you've ever done.


  1. As an aspiring 'novelist' with a full time day job, I certainly understand the importance of having 'writing' time if I am even going to take the first step. It will cut into my 'social' time, but my wife will be much happier if I'm doing something a little more productive.

    Great info, and now that I'm a writer I might need to start hanging out here more, huh?....:)

    1. Sure hope so - welcome Bill! Yep, I had a father who wanted me to be more productive - you can see where that got him.

      I had a full time day job - then a part-time day job & now I'm free - full time writer


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