Yesterday’s blog was all about how important it is to forget your excuses and just write. Or do whatever it is that you have a calling to do. Otherwise you risk never getting down to it at all.
It’s funny, then, that I should come across this quote in this Brain Pickings article about the famous routines of writers.
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
E.B. White said that. Apparently he couldn't write while listening to music, but could work in the middle of a busy household buzzing with activity. Everyone has their thing.
A writing routine is hard to follow if you’re not publishing on a daily basis for a blog or something like that.
I know from experience. I tried adding it to my daily calendar and it became white noise. I tried waking up early before work and I slept until my regular time. I tried writing after work and I ended up working late. You get the picture.
Here are three quick tips that I’ve found helpful in developing my new and improved semblance of a writing routine:
- Do an activity or a series of activities that keeps your mouth still, but keeps your mind moving. I really do believe in the practice of removing yourself from the buzz of people for at least a little while so you can louden the mind (as opposed to quieting it). For me, this is accomplished best through binge reading and hiking.
- Do NOT under any circumstances let someone start to read a piece for which you haven’t completely finished a first draft. It kills the whole thing, even if it’s good. Finish your draft and THEN figure out whether it even belongs under someone else’s eyeballs.
- Set a goal for your writing rather than a goal for your routine. For example, right now my goal is to push out one quality blog post per day (with some meatier writing time set aside for the weekends). I’m not sure I could write anything if I set my writing time to happen, say, between 10 and 11 p.m., even if that is the time I naturally sit down to write. It’s just too much pressure. Think and emphasize output rather than input.
Take all this for what it’s worth (enter self-deprecating humor about being unpublished here), but do be sure to develop a routine that works for you-- even if it’s squashing the idea of a routine and waiting until the words simply spill out of you.