How to develop the discipline to write isn’t the same for all. However there are some basics that fit most writers. Writing is a very personal and developing the discipline to write—even more so. What may work for some may not work for others. However, I’ve found one common activity shared by disciplined writers. They follow a routine.
Some writers follow nearly unvarying routines
“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach of prepare.” –Kurt Vonnegut
Others vary their routine to fit the circumstances
I usually get up in the morning and write for four hours, and then I eat lunch, and then in the afternoon I do web and youtube and businessy stuff for five hours. My work day is eight AM to six PM with an hour for lunch. I don’t always stick to this schedule–I travel a lot and some days I have to do non-writing stuff all day. But I am pretty good about the schedule.”
“When I’m writing a book I get up at seven. I check my e-mail and do Internet ablutions, as we do these days. I have a cup of coffee. Three days a week, I go to Pilates and am back by ten or eleven. Then I sit down and try to write. If absolutely nothing is happening, I’ll give myself permission to mow the lawn. But, generally, just sitting down and really trying is enough to get it started. I break for lunch, come back, and do it some more. And then, usually, a nap. Naps are essential to my process. Not dreams, but that state adjacent to sleep, the mind on waking.”
…But each finds their own routine
“I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses. I never allow the hotel people to change the bed, because I never sleep there. I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; then I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner—proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning.” –Maya Angelou
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” ‘A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him’”
Developing a writing routine
Make a Schedule – Pick a start time, break times, and time to eat. The end time may be fixed or tied to production.
Set a Goal – Begin with the minimum. How many words, blog posts, or pages will you write today?
Take breaks – While researching this post, I found most writers planned breaks from writing, whether it was mowing the lawn or walking to the public pool, you need to get away.
Create a plan – Write an outline, use an editorial calendar, or jot notes on a pad, but have an idea what you’re going to write, why you’re writing it, and how you will write it.
Many established authors have shared that if you want to be a writer you have to write—a lot. The best way to write a lot is to develop the discipline to write and the most productive tool in the writing arsenal may be developing a routine. Do you want to be a better writer? Stick to a routine. What writing routine do you follow?
But wait there’s more!
If this post struck a nerve, you might want to check out my book, How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever. The book is full of action plans for you to create a blogging/writing system that works for you.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like, How to Defeat Writer’s Block.