It’s time that I start working on a writing routine, because yesterday morning I spent about 90 minutes looking at YouTube videos from the Graham Norton Show. By the end of it, I had tears streaming down my face and an ab workout from laughing so much. Then, writer’s guilt slapped me in the face. The time on the clock set me straight, and I dove into my WIP. I managed to write 1,800 words, but it was a bit frazzling. I don’t want to repeat yesterday’s action of going down the Internet rabbit hole, so here’s the daily routine I want to establish for myself.
- Check and engage in social media and blog
Since my instinct in the morning is to pick up my phone and start web-surfing, it may be better not to fight it. Here’s my chance to check my WordPress and Twitter stats, view other people’s posts and spend some time engaging with others. I also spend this time catching up on regular news.
- Work on blog post
While I was working full-time, I was able to write one blog post per week. Now, I’m going to try to increase it to two, and see how that goes. I don’t want to overcommit myself, because if I don’t do it, writer’s guilt sets in. (I’m noticing a pattern about writer’s guilt. Definitely a future blog post idea.)
- Spend time creating
I’m convinced that my novel writing is better and more focused when I have another creative outlet. That’s one of the reasons I started making jewelry a few years ago, blogging is, too. Novel writing, for me, has been a slog-through-the-mud experience that may or may not lead to a completed manuscript. When I make jewelry or work on my blog, it satisfies that need for an immediate sense of accomplishment. I don’t do this every day, but I’m aiming for twice a week.
- Go to the “office”
I can work on my blog at home, no issues there. But when it’s time to push out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of words, I need to be in a space where I’m less distracted—where no dishes, laundry, TV or nap-friendly couch are calling for my attention. My office is the library. The book stacks are inspiring. And I don’t have to feel obligated to buy a cup of tea, like I would at a cafe, when I really just need to park my bum for 4 hours and write.
Yes, blogging is writing, but the bulk of my writing time is spent on my novel-in-progress. My goal is 1,800 words per day. If I can commit to that, I’ll feel like I’ve truly earned my imaginary paycheck that day. How did I come up with the 1,800 word count? If I’m working on an 80,000-word manuscript at a clip of 1,800 words per day between Monday – Friday, then it would take about 2 1/2 months to finish. Give myself a 2-week grace period for any below-average productivity, and that allows for a 3-month timeframe. I think that’s respectable.
I know, I know. Exercise isn’t part of the writing process, but it makes me more energetic, which makes me a better writer. When I commit to three days of exercise a week, I’m not as lethargic. Depending on the weather, I alternate between aerobics, yoga, dance (I have fun trying to follow dance-tutorial videos, and I fail, epically), walking, jogging, and biking.
- Write some more
After lunch is when I usually hit my stride. The morning cobwebs are gone. I’ve spent some time thinking about what I want to write that day, and I’ve gotten my distractions out of the way.
- Read a book and maybe write even more
It’s baseball playoff time, and my hubby is all about MLB on TV right now. Me? Not so much. At first, I wanted the remote-control time back. But now I use that game time to catch up on a book or do more writing or blog-post tweaking.
RELATED ARTICLE: Famous authors and their daily routines
For those of you with day jobs, I know what you’re thinking: This is not doable for my schedule. You’re right. I wasn’t able to do it that way, either. But there are pieces of it that may be applicable to your daily routine. Here’s what I did while I was working my “8-to-5.”
Mornings for day job routine:
- Check social media and blog
I rode mass transit to work, so I spent my riding time scrolling through my phone. If you have to drive, then I would spend 15 minutes before leaving home or when you get to the office (shh, we won’t tell anyone).
During the ride, I would pull out my laptop or notebook and write for 10 – 15 minutes. Again, if you have to put hands on a steering wheel, then take the time during your lunch break to write.
- Wake up early
Even better, wake up earlier to spend time writing or engaging on social media before you go to work. I spent a year waking up 30 minutes earlier than normal to write, and that’s how I finished my first full manuscript.
Evenings for day job routine:
- Cut TV time, write instead
If you have what I call passive TV time—where you’re watching TV, but it’s really watching you—then pull out your laptop or notebook for 15 minutes. You may surprise yourself how far you can go. Just 200 words during Wheel of Fortune will add up over time.
- Exercise while watching TV
You could do some squats, jumping jacks, and jog-in-place movements for 15 minutes while watching TV, to incorporate exercise and get energized.
Travel for work? You could consider writing in the airport or station, on the plane or train, and during any layovers.
RELATED ARTICLE: 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Kazuo Ishiguro describes his “Crash” routine while writing Remains of the Day
What’s your daily writing routine? Is it working? Or do you prefer not to have one?
Photos by Harry Sandhu, freestocks.org and Nick Morrison on Unsplash