How to create a writing routine

With all of the day-to-day commitments we have, it can be difficult to find time to write. However, by developing a realistic writing routine that works for you, you’ll notice that there’s more time than you think – you just need to make a plan and stick to it!

These four steps will help you to create a writing routine that suits you.

1.     Organise your week so that you have a good balance of writing and non-writing time. Think about your general weekly schedule and where you might be able to fit writing time in between. That way, you won’t feel guilty whenever you’re ‘free’ but not writing– you’ll have already slotted some writing time in to part of your day or week. And it gets better – because you’re writing consistently, your mind will still be ticking over and processing what you’ve written, even when you’re not putting pen to paper. You don’t necessarily need to be constantly writing in order to feel productive!
2.     Think about your writing habits. This ties in with the last point. Take into consideration how long your writing sessions tend to be – how many words do you usually write? How long can you write for before you’re distracted (usually checking your emails, messages, social media…)? It’s also important to think about your sleeping and working habits. This allows you to gain a realistic view of how you currently write and if there are any recurring patterns or habits that do or don’t work for you.

3.     Setting yourself a daily word count gives you peace of mind that you’re reaching a set target, and it’s a healthy way to make sure you stop at a certain, ‘achieved’ point, so that you can happily get on with the rest of your day. Once you’ve set a daily word count, make sure you stick to it: Zadie Smith makes sure she disconnects from the internet before a writing session to avoid any distractions. If you have less time, or aren’t feeling particularly motivated, try writing sprints. Write for 15 minutes, take a five-minute break and repeat.
4.     Create writing cues to ease you into your writing session. Once you’ve organised your week, reflected on your writing habits and set yourself a daily word count, you may still need a prompt to get your creative juices flowing. If it’s your dedicated writing time but you’re still staring at your last sentence from yesterday, don’t be disheartened! Inspiration is everywhere and just needs tapping into. Open a book, pick out a sentence at random, chop it in half and re-write the end of the sentence. Otherwise, here are a few writing prompts to get you started:

-       I hesitantly peered through the window as the howling wind thrashed against it. There, at the bottom of the garden, I could see a dark shadow, low to the ground…
-       Miranda and Toby sat on the sofa, each with a glass of cheap prosecco in hand. Once they’d caught each other’s eyes, Toby blinked nervously, took a deep breath and…
-       He wasn’t sure where he was, but all he recognised was the sound of a mobile phone faintly ringing in the distance. When he turned around, he couldn’t believe his eyes – there was…