While Lottie, C., or whatever she’s calling herself is away for the week, she asked me to come in and write a guest post for her. I am her lovable dashing, charismatic and undeniably godlike boyfriend, to be extremely modest. Much like her, I write novels. I have recently finished a first draft of a thriller and am now working my way through a young-adult fantasy.
Like most people, I struggled for a long time to develop a writing routine. I’ve created stories since I could learn to write, and before that I just manufactured them out of Lego blocks. Now that I’m of an age where I need to get a real job, and I’m failing to do so, I’ve decided to have a proper go at my writing. So, with a hardened fist, I forced myself into a routine.
It’s certainly not easy and it’s often anything but fun, but the results really show and lift your spirit. Here’s 5 ways to develop your routine:
1) Set Aside Time Just For Writing
Seems simple, right? It’s not.
I have no kids. I’m currently unemployed. In truth, I’m at the prime time in my life for having writing time. Yet I still find myself struggling to “find” time to write. It’s there, I just ignore it.
The way around this is to set a time to write and stick to it. Pick an hour in the day and say that’s when you’re going to write. Let everyone know it. Let everyone know you’re not to be disturbed. Don’t make it an option, make it a fact of life.
The more and more you stick to this hour, and you must stick to it ruthlessly, the easier your words will come to you and the quicker you build up a routine. For each successive day you write, the job gets easier and easier. It suddenly becomes a must. You’ll get to the point where, come your writing hour, you HAVE to do it. If you don’t, you feel wrong.
2) No Distractions
During your writing time, remove all distractions.
If you must, turn off the internet. If you can’t unplug the entire thing, turn it off on your laptop, computer or blue-tooth enabled typewriter.
Turn the phone off. Even better, put it in another room and turn it off.
Face a wall. Don’t let a window distract you. Don’t let the TV distract you. Don’t even let adorable cat posters distract you. Find a spot where you won’t be distracted and stick to it. Much like the previous point, you’ll soon find yourself ignoring distractions. At the end of the day, you need to write.
3) One Project Only
If you’re going to commit to your novel, play, poetry or whatever, you have to really commit. Make that project become your world. If another idea distracts you, write it down. Then shove it in a drawer and don’t look back until this project is done.
Here’s the brutal truth: You will hate what you’re writing. You will always hit points where you want to throw it down the stairs, points where you’re convinced it’s the single worst thing you’ve ever written. Here’s the nice truth: it’s not. This is just the way a writer’s mind works. We assume we’re crap.
Speaking of which…
4) Allow Yourself To Be Crap
First drafts suck. Yet another brutal fact of life.
Got that? They suck. Your first draft is pathetic. Nobody will enjoy reading it. Sure, there will be flashes of talent, but it’s mostly useless. Okay, now suck it up. Accept that it’s crap. And now go roll around in that crap.
A lot of writer’s get bogged down with their writing and edit as they go along. This works for some, but fails for most. If you can turn off your inner-editor and just write, you’ll fly through your first draft. At the end of the day, it’s editing where the true craft comes into play. Your first draft is just getting the bones and plot down.
So allow yourself to suck. And suck you shall!
5) Break Every Single One Of These Rules
Sometimes you need to break routine. Maybe you want to write at a different hour. Maybe you want a day off completely. Or a weekend. Or a week! I certainly took routine breaks writing my novel, and it helps for the better.
Want to be distracted by the TV one night a week? Go ahead!
Want to slowly add to your poem collection while writing the epic fantasy series? Rhyme those words!
Want to edit every last word you wrote last night, because you know it’s complete and utter crap? Be my guest!
The most important thing to having a routine is breaking it now and then. You will need to refresh your batteries. You will need to keep things flexible and interesting, otherwise you’re just becoming an emotionless robot of productivity. Enjoy your writing and remember that you’re writing for that joy, not for productivity.
So there you have it, five simple and efficient ways to increase your productivity and develop a writing routine. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! Feel free to comment below and both I and Lottie will respond to them as best we can!
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