Writing Routines for the New Year

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe because, though I’ve made a ton of them,  I have never kept one. I mean, saying I’m going to do something doesn’t get it done, right?

I’m more a fan of changing my routine to accommodate a lifestyle change.

I’m not sure I’m a good example to follow when it comes to writing routines. I can be a little…obsessive.

I ride motorcycles – 100,000 miles, since I learned how. I ride a bicycle – 100 miles a week.  You see where I’m going with this. I sit down and write from 3 am to 6 am in the morning.  Every morning, weekends included.

Ok, before you swear at me and move on to the next blog, read on just a bit – you may find something helpful here.

Randy Ingermanson (he has a wonderful website and ezine if you’re not familiar with him.) has put forward the theory that you only have time and focus enough in your life for three big things. Not that you can’t do more than three things, but if writing isn’t in the top three things you focus on, your odds of getting published diminish drastically. And if you’re as old as I am, the only shot you’ll have is posthumously.   So number one, reassess your life and your priorities. Can you put writing in the top three?  If not, you can stop feeling guilty – it’s not your fault. The writing will be there when you have the time. But if you can . . .

I’m not suggesting you get up at 3 am to write. I’ve always been a serious morning person, and I fell into the habit before I retired – I’d write before I had to get ready for work every day. I do recommend you to have a routine, though. Maybe you’re a night owl, and can write when the fam is sleeping. Maybe you can squeeze in two hours when the baby’s down for a nap. I know women who wrote a book on scrap paper in the car, waiting for the kids to get out of soccer practice. That doesn’t work for me. If I’m thinking about canned mushrooms, I can’t concentrate on how to get my protag out of the corner I’ve painted her into. But if it works for you – do it!

Habit vs routine:

There is a difference.

Habit is something you do automatically – without any deliberation. Habit is brushing your teeth. Washing your face before bed.

Routines are different because they require thought and deliberation.

The first step towards getting yourself doing something regularly is to recognize what action you need to achieve and then purposefully design a routine around it.

How do you do that?  Color code your calendar –

Red=no way I can write today

Yellow=proceed with caution

Green=butt in chair, going for it.

That way you can see, visually, what your routine will look like.

My friend Fae Rowen, said it best when she compared writing a book with kneading dough. If you don’t work it every few days, the yeast stops growing, and you never get bread. I find that working on my WIP every day keeps my subconscious keeps working on the sticky parts.

Do I have days when I may only write a paragraph? You bet. Do I have days when I should use a pooper scooper on the result? More than I like to admit. But I’d have those days whether I was writing every day or not.

By sheer accumulation of hours, words, and sweat equity, I’ve published twelve books so far.

You can too.

So tell us – what writing routine works best for you? How did you stumble upon it?

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