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This Writing Life: Make the Most of Your Routine

4 February, 2011

There is a particular piece of writing advice that I’ve seen espoused by a number of writers that goes like this: to make it as a professional writer, you have to be able to write at any time, anywhere, no matter what your schedule is like. This is a good piece of advice, particularly if you’ve got a hectic life. Those few hundred words you get in before breakfast or on your lunch break can add up to a novel faster than you’d imagine.

It’s not that type of write-whenever-you-can sort of writing that I want to talk about today, though. I think, for many writers, getting into a writing routine can be just as important. And it”s not just writing at the same time every day or every week that I’m talking about – more specifically, it’s knowing which parts of the rest of your life are quiet enough to allow for writing time, and then working out how to make that time routine.

Whether this is something you can accomodate will depend on your life. If you’ve got a full-time job, kids, a college course and volunteer work to fit in (for example), then your writing may well be restricted to a few minutes at a time, whenever you can manage it. But what if you know you’ve always got Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings free? Or what if you know you could have those times free if you stayed up an hour longer on Wednesday and got up an hour earlier on Sunday?

This is what I mean when I suggest making the most of your routine. If you do have a routine – and I would imagine most people do – you need to work out how to fit your writing into it. Once your writing is actually part of your routine, and you wouldn’t miss it any more than you wouldn’t turn up to your day-job because you ‘didn’t feel like it’, that’s when you need to start filling in all those small, spare moments with writing too.

And, if you’re like me and you’re actually able to set aside quite a lot of time for writing, that novel or short story will be finished before you know it. (Although what you do when you’ve got too much time is an entirely different problem, which I’ll tackle in another post.)

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