The internet is full of writing advice, and so is this here blog. But the thing with writing advice is that most of it isn’t very good. Every writer is different, so when it comes to creating a healthy writing daily routine, you have to think about what you need and not what others are telling you to do.

A close-up shot of hands on a keyboard with the text "How to Create a Healthy Writing Daily Routine" and a watermark for

Sounds simple, right? Mostly, it is. But I would be lying if I said that it didn’t take me most of my adult life to figure this out.

See, I’ve always been super attracted to writing advice my whole life, even though most of it has been less than helpful. I’d try to write every single day, or to copy the routine of some famous writer, only to find that my brain (which is actually 3 raccoons in a trench coat) couldn’t adapt to it.

Most of my undergrad, grad school, and professional writing routine has been pretty toxic. I would procrastinate as long as possible to get a good spike of adrenaline going. Then, I’d write in a frenzied rush with no time to make any edits, and I’d get the project done and sent off with mere minutes to spare.

The crash afterward was terrible. There were mental, emotional, and even physical side effects to this. And my dumbass did this from high school until about the age of 37.

(Because I used to teach a college writing class, sometimes well-meaning parents ask me about good writing habits for students so they can help their kids better prepare for the university life. I always answer to do as I say and not as I do.)

And it’s with all that preamble that I present to you these tips for creating a healthy writing daily routine.

Writing Routine Ideas

If you can read this website, I assume you’re capable of navigating the internet on your own like an adult. So, please know that I’m not in the business of telling other adults how to live their lives. I am, however, consistently in the business of shouting ideas into the void.

These are simply some ideas for you to ponder as you consider what you need to build a healthy writing daily routine.

001: The Nifty 350 or 20 Minutes

I think this idea comes from Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Of course, I could be completely wrong on that.

The idea is that you shoot for writing 350 words a day. That’s the goal. When you hit it, you can keep writing if you’re feeling it. And if you aren’t, you can stop.

It’s enough words that you can say you’ve gotten something done, but not so much that it will burn you out if you try to hit it every singe day.

I have a somewhat similar method I use, but instead of focusing on a specific word count (something, that for whatever reason, turns me into an obsessive fiend) I shoot for 20 minutes. I set a timer and just write for that period of time. I find it’s enough time to get some words out–usually approximately 350, if you can believe it–and when I’m done, I usually want to keep going.

RELATED POST:  3 Things You MUST Do to Grow Your Creative Business (And a Special Offer!)

But if I don’t, it’s cool. I hit my 20 minutes.

002: Stopping Before You’re Done

Admittedly, this is something that makes my skin crawl a little. I’m a completionist at heart, which is why I’ve seen The Fast and the Furious saga so many times.

(That, and I absolutely love that series. I don’t care how you feel about it.)

Basically, what you do with this one is stop writing before you have all the ideas out. You can stop mid-sentence or mid-paragraph or mid-chapter, whatever works for you. The thinking behind this one is that if you leave som, or e stuff unwritten, you’ll be able to hop back into the project easily when you come back to it the next day.

One thing to consider, though, is the type of writer you are. Are you a drafter who gets in the zone and the ideas flow, and the minute you stop writing, it’s like someone put a kink in the idea hose and you can’t access all the stuff that was coming at you?

If that’s the case, this method may not be for you.

As someone who outlines, but leaves enough wiggle room in the outlines to drink from the idea firehose while I’m in the zone, I find that this isn’t something I like doing.

003: Romanticize It

Look. We’ve talked about this.

If I’m not screaming at you to live like an artist, or to feel like an artist, or to live a creative life, then I’m at least coming at you with tips on how to get creativity back.

Maybe your life is full of synchronicities and beautiful flower gardens and access to works of art from all the greats. Perhaps your local coffee shop always has the best music playing and the sort of atmosphere that makes your fingers itch to write. For all I know, you’re simply inundated with inspiration at every turn, so much so that you have to close your eyes and put your hands over your ears lest you absorb too many ideas.

Most likely, that’s not the case. So, I invite you to romanticize your life.

Find those synchronicities, even if it’s a stretch and everyone tells you that you’re reaching. Imagine flower gardens where there are only cigarette butts in the dirt. Seek out museums and libraries where you can absorb the good shit. Pretend the corporate coffee behemoth that ran your favorite local shop out of town isn’t a soulless place that caters to to go orders while AI-generated jazz plays in the background.

For the love of all that is good in this world, hold your eyelids open A Clockwork Orange-style so you can find the beauty in something.

004: Set a Timer

As I mentioned above, sometimes I set a timer and write for 20 minutes.

RELATED POST:  How to Create an Editorial Calendar

The cool thing with this method is that you can do whatever amount of time works for you though. I think 20 is a great amount of time because it’s enough to get some work done, but not so long that it’s hard to keep going. Plus, once you hit about 20 minutes, you usually want to keep going.

But, desperate times and all that, you know.

So, if you’re struggling to keep going, maybe you set a timer for three minutes. Or five minutes. Or even like, 30 seconds. Pick an amount of time that will give you that sweet dopamine hit that you can only experience from a win.

And once you’ve chalked up some wins, it’s usually pretty easy to keep moving forward.

Don’t think you can pick a long amount of time, like 45 minutes or a whole hour, and hit that out of the blue. If you’re building a writing habit, you need to give yourself some stepping stones and not go for the gold just yet. And that is especially true if you’re already feeling a little down and demoralized.

005: Focus on Your Needs

At the time of writing this, it’s 2024, so I assume, for you, typing is the fastest way to write. Plus, it has the added bonus of getting your words into a machine that allows you to easily edit those words. Or copy them to various places.

That doesn’t mean that your brain is the most creative when you type, though.

So, if you need a paper and pen, choose that method. Even though it makes your skin crawl to think about all the work that will go into typing up what you’ve handwritten, do what you need to actually be creative.

The same goes for the setting. I like to think that I can be productive in a super cute coffee shop while sipping roughly 800 grams of sugary milk, but I’m not. So I write at home.

You know yourself better than anyone, and you know what you need. So, if something on this list directly contradicts what you know in your heart is necessary for you to write, ignore it.

You do you.

A Note on Famous Writers Daily Routines

Okay. So. Everyone loves reading about the writing routines of famous authors.

Hell. I even have this post about the writing habits of famous writers where I talk about Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, Maya Angelou, and yes, even the Stephen King writing routine.

I recommend taking all information about writing routines with a grain of salt. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, as a writer, I don’t always want to share how the sausage gets made. Mostly because you don’t need to know about how much time I spend in my underwear on the couch in the my office, chugging black coffee and staring off into space. (RESPECT MY PROCESS.)

Secondly, a lot of the information we have about famous writing routines is actually false. Like the biography of Hunter S. Thompson by E. Jean Carroll where she wrote about his routine that was so full of scotch, cocaine, and other substances? That was fake. She was writing his biography in the gonzo journalism style, and it went over everyone’s head. (Google it. You’ll find that major publications have acted like it’s gospel. Bless their hearts.)

RELATED POST:  How to Start a Writer's Notebook

And for what it’s worth, “author daily routine drugs” is a pretty popular search term. I will not be taking part in romanticizing drug use as a part of the writing process.

You don’t have to do much research to find a whole slew of writers who medicated their mental illnesses and trauma with drugs and alcohol. That’s not what made them great writers. It’s often what ended their careers or lives, though.

This is a post about creating a healthy writing daily routine. So we’re going to focus on that.

How to Create a Healthy Writing Daily Routine

Now it’s time to actually figure out what you’re going to do so you can do it. Here’s how I built my healthy writing daily routine:

What’s Your Writing Routine?

Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Are you also spending time in your underpants while you chug coffee? RESPECT MY PROCESS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *