Writing a book is not easy.
It is made especially hard when you throw in all the external forces, the obligations and responsibilities that push you away from the act of writing itself. These may be family-related obligations or work responsibilities that keep you working long hours.
If you have one or many of these external forces in your life, then developing a routine for writing is probably not a high priority.
But if it’s something you’ve thought about and just haven’t yet implemented in your life, then I encourage you to take few minutes and read on.
I am convinced that establishing a routine is the single most important thing you can do if you want to not only finish your book, but make the process of writing it (at least a little bit) easier.
A Personal Anecdote
I will use myself as an example, otherwise I’ll feel like I’m just talking at you.
I write every day. Each morning, I set my alarm for the same time. In order to make sure that I get my ass out of bed, I set my phone on the other side of the room. I have done this nearly every day for a year. So the act of just sitting down to write comes easily.
In the morning, when I sit down to write, I don’t know the exact words that are about to appear. A vague idea or a well-outlined scene may already exist, but either way, once I get started, the ideas begin to flow and the words flock to the page.
The ideas flow easier, because my brain is more focused on the task at hand, which is writing, and not thinking about whether or not what I’m writing is actually good.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenging days, but since my writing is a routine, I feel better equipped to handle them. If I miss a day, I know there is still tomorrow (and for the record, I have only missed three days in the last year).
When you wrap your writing in a routine, those hard days tend to come less. This is because, if you keep it up, the routine will become a habit. And when a thing becomes a habit you don’t think about the thing and whether or not you are going to do the thing. You just do the thing.
Sometimes, the struggle to just sit down and write is real. Finding the motivation can be hard. Holding on to the motivation is even harder. That’s because motivation is fleeting.
The thing is, if you can turn your writing into a routine your life will be made easier. Only writing when you feel inspired will make it harder to finish that book. And if you do, it will take you a lifetime. Instead, evaluate how you spend each day and then set aside specific time reserved for writing. It doesn’t matter when. It could be early morning, late at night or on your lunch break.
Think first about your routine. A routine creates a rhythm.
The Rhythm of Routine
The finest athletes have routines in order to zero in on the task at hand; a batter adjust his gloves right before he steps up to the plate; a basketball player spins the ball and dribbles it the same number of time before each free throw. These seemingly insignificant routines help them to focus. Their brain zeroes in on the task itself, rather than worrying about whether or not they’ll succeed at the task. They focus on execution rather than results; the journey as opposed to the destination.
Similarly, if you develop a routine to encapsulate your writing in, then each time you sit down to write, you are able to just write, rather than thinking about writing.
The Rhythm of Writing
The physical act of writing has a rhythm to it; a sort of vibration that lives beneath our perception. This vibration is inherent not just in the quality of the writing, but also in the quantity. That is to say, how often one writes.
This is especially true for new writers; the frequency is more important than the quality. A new writer has a distinct lack of quality, because they lack experience, so the only thing left is quantity.
In short, what I’m trying to say is that how often you write is more important than what you write, especially if you are just getting started. The easiest way to write with a great amount of frequency is to wrap your wrapping in a routine.
Evaluate, Then Conquer
I don’t know what your life is like, dear readers, but I encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time. Is there something that is preventing you from writing at the same time every day? Is it external or internal?
Is it simply that you need to cut back on Netflix or video game time?
Or is it something more than that, like family obligations, long hours at work?
Identify the activities you engage in each day. Can any be shifted around or cut entirely?
Determine which activities are beneficial to your life. For the ones that aren’t, think about ways to cut back on the amount of time you spend doing them.
A routine is your greatest ally in this journey as a writer.
Consider developing it.