I’ve been writing since elementary school, but I’m still struggling to do it consistently. I know good writing routines are important, so it’s definitely time to build them.

Good Writing Routines

Original photo by Arash Asghari

I’m not sure what it is about my personality that makes me love the idea of routines, then actively fight against them when it comes to putting the plans into action. Like, I want to be crazy productive. I want to get shit done. I want to achieve all the goals I’ve set for myself. But for whatever reason, when I sit down to work, I struggle.

Partially, I think it’s because my heart desires to be on vacation 100% of the time. (I know I’m not alone in this.) And I know that I spend a lot of time transitioning between the day job and the other stuff, just because I need to rest and reset a bit after day job work. But rather than take some extra downtime waiting around for the mood to strike me, I need to build that transition time into my writing routines.

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So, with that, I thought I’d share five things I’m doing to build good writing routines.

Good Writing Routines

001: Use healthy triggers.

For a while, before the breakup, I was getting really good at brewing a cup of tea right when I got home from work, and using that as my trigger. I’d set my stuff down, let the dog out, and brew some tea. Then, while the tea was brewing, I’d change out of my work clothes and into my preferred writing uniform: dog hair-covered yoga pants and a scummy t-shirt. And by the time the tea was ready, I was ready to sit down and get after it. Also, can I just say that a cup of green tea is a really nice way to wind down from work while simultaneously getting jacked up to write?

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I think I’m going to try to use this method again, only this time, I’ll be using an herbal tea. What can I say? I’ve reached a point in my life where a smidgen of caffeine is enough to completely send me over the edge and if I have some caffeine after 4, I won’t sleep until midnight. But the act of brewing the tea is a good trigger for me — way better than zoning out for an hour with social media and then finally deciding to write.

002: Avoid binge writing.

I’m not sure if I should put this in here, because if you saw my Camp NaNoWriMo vlogs, then you know that I rarely follow this advice. And I don’t mind spending a day writing 10,000 words if the mood strikes me, I just don’t want to be in a position where I’m always catching up by binging.

Slow and steady wins the race, and only you can decide the writing pace that’s best for you. So, I know for me, on a day that I don’t have to work or don’t have a lot going on, I can write about 5,000 words. On work days, I may only have energy to write about 1,000 words. So the goal here is to get the maximum output for whichever day so I can avoid Saturdays where I’m trying to bash out 15,000 words just because I feel behind.

003: Make room to pace yourself.

This tip goes hand in hand with the last one, but to prevent yourself from binging, you have to make room to pace yourself. Sure, you can probably write 100,000 words in a month. (If you had nothing else going on and maybe you also found a stash of amphetamines.) But you don’t want to put yourself in that position. I know from first-hand experience that if I don’t make space to be a person (you know, eat, drink, clean the house, sleep), then I can’t write. It took me way too long to realize this, but now that I know it, I’m gonna hold on to it like it’s sacred.

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If your days look a little full or rushed, or maybe you’re trying to hit a word count every day that has you freaking out a bit, or not getting all the sleep you need, I would recommend that you reassess. Sure, the hustle aspect of being a writer is super important, but it’s not as important as taking care of yourself. You need to keep your mind and heart balanced overall, and if you’re neglecting either of those, you’re going to burn out hard.

004: Take care of your body.

I’ve mentioned before how much I hate working out, and that still stands. But I have found workout activities that I can tolerate. I’ve got a whole post about different workouts that have worked for me over the years, so if you’re looking for something to try, definitely check that out. Also, eating right is important. We all know that cheese fries are delicious, but totally not a thing that should be eaten daily. (That last sentence was for me more than anyone else. I love cheese fries the way that most people love their soulmate.)

Finding some way to move your body regularly is important for a number of reasons beyond just fitness. I know that I experience less back pain from sitting in a chair all day when I work out regularly. And I can’t stress how great working out has been for my mental health. Like, the majority of the benefits I get from working out happen between my ears. It’s done wonders for my anxiety and emotional health.

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005: Eliminate anxiety from the process. (As much as you can.)

So, I’m a naturally anxious person. And if you have anxiety, you’re probably like “Oh hey, Marisa, great idea. Why didn’t I just eliminate anxiety in the first place?” And then I assume you flip me off. So let me explain what I mean by all this, because I swear I’m not trying to be an asshole.

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Instead of working in conditions that make you anxious, make sure you’ve set the conditions to benefit you. I know I have to work in a clean space. I have to keep the sound levels low, and use some non-musical sounds to get work done. I have to be comfortable, and I have to eliminate external stimuli like phone notifications or any flashing popups. Those are all triggers for my anxiety, and by getting rid of them, it’s way easier to write.

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What Are Your Writing Routines?

Tell me all about how you built healthy writing routines. Do you have a trigger habit? What do you listen to when you write? Got a workout that I need to try to keep my brain feeling balanced? Let me know in the comments!

4 Responses

  1. Relatively short sessions, 30-50 minutes every day and one day of two to three working periods. I find consistency is my hero. I write between 7 and eight in the evenings. Mornings, early, on the weekends.

  2. Yes being consistent works for me. I try to start early and write in hour or two blocks. I struggle with noise going on so I work better with my thoughts in near silent, peaceful surroundings.

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