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Routines and Ruts

August 24, 2010

Do you have a writing routine? Or are you stuck in a writing rut?

We all have a structure to our day. Even if you’re not one who prefers structure, some degree inevitably creeps in. But is it the right amount for your writing habits?

In the last year I’ve had the opportunity to take stock in how my life is organized. And, from time to time, to make changes in my daily routine. So I’ve tinkered. I’ve tinkered with my daily and weekly schedule to allow myself different times and opportunities to write.

And I’ve discovered some things about how I write.

I am not creative first thing in the morning. Even if I’m just trying to get into the habit of morning pages, the pump just isn’t primed that early in the day.

I don’t do myself any favors by making a writing appointment with myself. If I reserve a specific time for myself to write, it’s too easy for me to eliminate my writing time as my plan for the day gets revised.

But if I don’t set aside some time for me to write, I will get other things done instead.

So what I’ve started doing is carrying around a small steno pad with the things I need to get done every day—and I make sure that “Write for 1 hour” is on that list. I may write on my lunch hour. I may squeeze it in right before bedtime. And of course there are some days when I simply can’t check that item off my list.

A routine is good. But a routine shouldn’t be so important that it becomes stifling. Then it’s a rut. Routine brings order to a day. A rut controls it.

How long has it been since you’ve examined your writing routine?

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5 Comments
  1. August 24, 2010 10:36 am

    I so wish I could write like that–an hour here or there. For me, it has to be a large block of time–couple hours minimum. I can’t keep track of what’s happening in my plot otherwise. I spend the first fifteen minutes re-reading what’s happened, who wore what clothes so I don’t have them take off a jacket they never had on in the first place, then I’m off.

    Writing usually ends up evenings, after work, when I’m tired. Oh well…

  2. August 24, 2010 2:58 pm

    I can write in the afternoons or night best. Mornings are worthless for me as well. Of course, I accomplish more in the evenings than any other part of the day. I usually write for half an hour to an hour. Usually all the time I have IF I get a chance to write at all that day. Weekends, you can forget it. I have absolutely no time or energy to write on the weekends.

  3. August 25, 2010 1:10 am

    This is such a perfect segue to get me into the mind set to write the final in my series of knowing your process.

    I think the ruts are part of the process. I’ve always felt there has been something wrong with me because I can’t churn out fiction week in, week out. In the past I’ve put it down to too much non-fiction writing chewing into my creativity. If I was playing the blame game, this year I’d point the finger at too much editing. What I’ve come to understand (for me), writing is a cycle, like everything in life. Which means there are fallow period, as there are highly productive periods.

    I guess its knowing what is fallow and what is stagnant (two very different things). I was going to spend time every day this year doing some writing exercises which I still haven’t bothered with. What I do know, I’m going back to writing my morning pages. They may not be fiction but they’re a way to move things around in my head… to drain the stagnation. Every time I’ve written morning pages great things have stirred so perhaps this is where my routine lies. A date with Julia Cameron every morning.

    There could be worst things (like having to get up and go to the office!)

  4. adampb permalink
    August 25, 2010 3:16 am

    I try and fit writing in one night a week of focused writing to complete Friday Flash or Fiction Friday. I write on the fly during the day when I’m at work (free periods are a good time to have a focused half hour of writing). One day soon I’ll plan some time for a web serial and a novel.

  5. August 25, 2010 7:12 pm

    I don’t get much time to myself, and what time I do have in blocks is prioritised depending on what needs to get done. We also have no routine around here! I generally write my FF during the youngest child’s nap, although this week I started it Sunday night and finished the last few sentences over the space of 2 days! I write better at night than in the morning (possibly because at night I have no interruptions and can get into the zone easier). I don’t generally write every day, so NaNoWriMo will be challenging! My writing goal is generally “write FF this week”, although I did finish another short story on Sunday and I edited a couple of my past FFs last night (not on the blog, just in Word). I think eventually it will become “write an hour a day”, like you Dale! I have to fit in around 2 kids so it can be tricky!

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