When I was younger, I thought routine was a bad word. I hated anything that looked or smelled like a routine. Or at least I thought I did. I didn’t realize just how often I used routines and how productive they made me. I know it sounds odd, but routines actually foster spontaneity. Routines, at least in my life, allow me to juggle all the things I must do and all the things I want to do and rarely drop a thing. Okay. That last part isn’t quite true. I drop a lot of things. But invariably it is because I let the routine slip.
Routine is something you do over and over again. (Do you brush your teeth before washing your face in the morning? That’s a routine.) It is not the same thing as a schedule. I still don’t do great with set-in-concrete schedules, although I have made peace and even initiated a friendship with those.
This week’s blog is a look at some of the writing routines that help us be productive, that help us fulfill our dream of being a writer. I believe the most important routine is our self-talk. We must believe we are writers and speak that way, even in our minds. Telling others I am a writer makes it more real, both to me and to them. Telling myself I phrased that thank you note for a despised gift from a beloved aunt very tactfully, reinforces the fact that I am a good writer. Telling myself that, yes the bathroom needs cleaning, but not at the expense of my writing time, reminds me of the importance of what I see as my calling in life. Change your self-talk to support your writing and you will see your writing explode.
Another extremely important routine is to write every day. When I have the mindset that the day is not finished until I have written something, I get a lot more written. (I have to put other routines and schedules in place to actually finish a project, but that is the subject for a different blog.)
I also think it is also important to mix up the writing. I get bored if I have to work on a project for long periods of time. Even though I may be focusing more time and energy on the project, I get less and less done. So I alternate what I work on. One day I will work on my most important fiction project; another day I will work on a non-fiction project like this blog. Every day I am writing, but each day is different. This seems to increase the excitement for each project and has radically increased my creativity.
Self-talk, daily writing minimums and a variety of projects that I cycle through are the main routines that keep me producing. What about you? What routines have you developed? Which routines, when missed, radically reduce your output? Do you have any routines that need to be nixed or changed? Let us hear from you.