Part 4: 4 Steps to Actually Start Writing and Develop a Routine
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
I read a lot about other authors, what habits and tools they use. If you’re interested in that, I recommend the website writingroutines.com or the book Daily Rituals. Recently, I wrote about the 12 lessons that I learned about writing from Stephen King.
In the previous post we developed a structure, now it’s time to develop a routine and actually write! What follows are the steps I use to get into the habit of writing.
Why Writing Should be a Habit
Now you have a goal it’s time to achieve it. For the sake of this post, let’s assume you want to write 2 6,000 word short stories in a month’s time.
#1: Write 500 Words a Day
I recommend that you write every day. That way you’ll never lose focus, flow and most importantly, the connection with your characters.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not beautiful prose yet. If the dialogue is rusty or your character(s) a bit one dimensional. You can fix that later.
Get it all out from start to finish! Set yourself up for writing 500 words a day. This should be manageable for almost everyone. It’s still ambitious, but not ‘shout at your laptop ridiculous’.
For 2 6,000 word stories, that’s 24 days. This leaves you with roughly a week of editing and some slack days.
#2: Find Your Writing Moment
Previously, I’ve written about finding the time to write. Since we are developing a habit, find a moment when you can write every day. Ideally, right when you wake up.
Why? Because that way you’ve accomplished one of your most important tasks already. Plus, it’s easy to put writing in your morning routine.
Not enough time? Wake up earlier! Yup, I love my pillow as much as the next person, but if you want to write on the side, you better hustle. And you better wake up and not snooze.
Ah, there’s nothing better than waking up and jumping straight in. Don’t bother taking a shower. Grab a mug of coffee or tea and just sit there in your bathrobe. Who cares?
#3: Develop a Habit for ‘The Stuff Other Than Writing”
Congrats! You’re on the path of producing work. Which is THE most important thing.
Now it’s time to think about the fact that people should actually read your work, right? Unless your goal is to only let your grandmother read your work.
Perhaps you want a website, a Medium profile, social media accounts, a service for sending newsletters. There’s more to writing when you want to get read!
Use some time for this during the day (if you can!), or leave it for the evenings and weekends.
In a future post, I’ll dive into the marketing part and share what has worked for me in terms of reaching an audience.
#4: Rinse and Repeat
Well, just that. Do this every day. At least, if you really want it.
Naturally, there are the hungover days, Netflix binge days, holidays, etc. I’ll cut you some slack, you don’t have to work on your writing hustle then. (If you really don’t want to).
I started out with writing 500 words almost every night. On other nights, I was building my website, and arranging other stuff. However, writing is the most important.
Slowly my habits changed. The amount of work I put out changed. It all started with writing one short story every month.
This has gotten a bit out of control with publishing about 6-8 blog posts per month too, hosting a podcast and writing a novel. Oops. It’s hard work but I love it. For me, writing is my escape, my sanctuary and about the only thing that gets me in the old ‘flow state’.
Here’s what my days look like:
- Morning: Writing 1,000 words on my novel
- Afternoon: I’m lucky, most of the time I work from home (freelance marketing). Usually, I’m able to carve out some time to work on “The Stuff Other Than Writing”, answering emails, emailing influencers, social media posts and interactions, publishing on Medium, etc. Sometimes I’m even able to slip in a blog post!
- Evenings: In the evening I either write about 500 words on one of my short stories, or I’m working on a blog post. Blog posts I usually write in one go or in two days, to let the ideas simmer.
- Weekends: During the weekend I tie loose ends, continue writing of course, maybe record and edit a podcast, edit.
So there you have it!
Developing a writing habit is THE key if you want to achieve anything with your writing. You must write. EVERY DAY.
I hope the 4 steps and a look into my habits will help you in developing your own writing routine.
My advice is to stick with writing in the morning and use the time you created in the evening and weekends for website building, marketing, email, social media, etc.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Gandhi
What does your writing routine look like?