How to Develop a Solid Writer’s Routine
Developing a routine for your dream work can sound like the most boring thing in the world to a multi-passionate creative. But the key to any success is the ability to keep going no matter what. Developing a solid routine is a simple strategy that will have a big impact on your ability to achieve all that you set out to. A good idea and a strong plan will take you far, but the difference between those that succeed and those that don’t is that the former just keep going and do so day after day. This doesn’t mean you never stop and rest, it simply means you cultivate and harness higher levels of self-discipline, patience and commitment, which are required for success in any field.
Consistency is the number one factor determining whether someone will succeed, and in our community we know it’s not just about being good at what you do, it’s about living the life you have dreamed of and changing the world in some way. So being able to show up every day for your dream work and the life of your dreams is crucial, but it takes a huge amount of self-discipline, tenacity and focus.
So how do you develop a distraction-proof routine that supports the vision and goals you have for your work and life?
Developing a solid routine will be different for everyone. But below we give you five of our top strategies that have helped our authors combat overwhelm, perfectionism, and procrastination and develop a solid routine for success.
1. Do something for yourself first thing in the morning:
The last thing any creative wants is their dream work to become a chore. Creativity requires a level of space and freedom that allows ideas to percolate and our mind to be curious and unbridled. If you wake up and jump straight into your to-do list, you can easily become resentful, distracted and unable to get anything of true value done. You might be able to churn out a certain number of words, but they likely won’t leave you feeling inspired. When it comes to your dream work, although it is your passion and something you love to do there’s a level of output required, so it’s important to have done something nourishing for yourself first. We can too easily put pressure on ourselves and our dream work, and this not only has a negative impact on the work we create but also on our wellbeing. So wake up and do something for yourself first, like a yoga class, writing in your journal, enjoying a cup of coffee, meditating or going for a walk. If you do this, when you do sit down to your desk that day, you will feel ready to pour your heart and soul out onto the page.
2. Declutter your mind:
Once you decide to become a writer you notice one thing very fast – our minds are filled with a lot of unproductive, junk thoughts! Experts say we think 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts per day. Just imagine if all of those thoughts were words written down — we would be writing a book a day! It’s unbelievable, right? Still, there’s many days writers struggle to write even 1,000 words. So how in the world do you scour your overactive mind for the 1,000 or so words a day you will contribute to your book? To help, we recommend our writers practice Morning Pages. Developed by Julia Cameron, Morning Pages are a way to get all of the wandering or junk thoughts out of your mind before writing the real stuff. To do it, take out three blank pages in the morning and write down everything that comes to your mind. This is also known as stream of consciousness writing. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, the idea is to simply empty your mind of whatever thoughts are circling around in it when you wake up. You then set the pages aside without looking back over them and begin your day.
3. Start sharing your writing now:
For many writers in our community, a big part of the reason they want to write is because they have wisdom or a message to share with the world. When it comes to writing a book, the process can feel quite slow at times. We recommend our authors write in some way every single day and share it. This could be in the form of a blog or social media post. There’s no reason you need to wait to have finished your book to begin contributing and changing the world.
4. Manage your time:
Many people believe they will have to quit their job and move to a remote island for a year to be able to finish their book! The truth is, most writers achieve their goals in the little pockets of time that are available to them. For some that might be an hour or two in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, for others it’s a full day dedicated to writing on the weekend. While there are many time management tools out there, we have found the Pomodoro Technique is useful for everyone no matter how much time they have available. In this method, you divide your time in 25 minute chunks and each chunk of time is followed by a five minute break. For example, if you set aside two hours to write, you will set a timer for 25 minutes and write as much as you can during that time. As soon as the timer rings you stop and take a solid five minute break. After the break you will reset the timer for another 25 minutes, which will be followed by another five minute break. You continue to divide your time in this way for the full two hours. There are numerous benefits to this approach, and we have found it to be an effective way for writers to get the most out of their time.
5. Set clear boundaries:
Many of the creatives we meet despise boundaries and limits. They are free spirits at heart so the idea of imposing limits on themselves or others can feel foreign and a difficult process to navigate. Nevertheless, it is crucial for creatives to protect themselves, their time and their work. Unfortunately, many people won’t take your dream work seriously in the beginning, so it’s up to you to honour it and make sure you are not allowing other people’s agendas to determine how you spend your time. We know it can be tough to set boundaries, especially with those we love and care about, so we always suggest you try to come up with fun ways to do it. If you have little ones around, you can turn it into something playful but also visual for them. One of our writers had a special outfit she would wear when it was her writing time. She explained to her children that when mommy is wearing her special red outfit no-one is to interrupt her until she is back in her mommy clothes. Her children loved this idea, it was like their mom became a writing superhero on a very important mission for an hour each day! Of course, there’s also more conventional ways of setting boundaries, such as switching off your phone and saying no to invitations or distractions that will take you away from your work. One thing every creative has to do at some point is have a conversation with the people in their lives about why the work they are doing matters so much. Sadly, people are often conditioned to believe creative work is not ‘real work’ and that honouring our dreams is somehow selfish. These beliefs can have you meet resistance both within yourself and from others. This is when setting boundaries can become most difficult as a feeling of guilt often creeps in. However, at the end of the day you are the only one responsible for creating a different outcome or experience for yourself, so you must step forward with compassion and conviction, and command time and space for yourself and your dream work.
Want more tips? Join us at one our workshops where we dive deeper into this and help you to develop your own signature routine for success. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.