Last week, I talked about writing triggers and how they can help push through writer’s block. I also explained that being dependant on said triggers is a bad habit. Constant vigilance is necessary to avoid that because the human nature loves recognizable patterns. However, on some occasions, said patterns, or routine, are your friend.
Find a Writing Time
I’d love to say that writers can afford to wait for inspiration. I really would. Reality is that if you are really serious about the craft, you need to structure it. Thus, every writer, no matter how part-time, should have a sacred time slot on their calendar solely reserved to writing.
When I say “sacred”, I absolutely mean it. Writing time is a “defend with your life” kind of thing, which is why you should choose it carefully. Some people can manage to reserve an hour a night. Others can only afford a day a month. Both are fine as long as you put a stamp on that time and advertise it as a time during which you will write unless dire circumstances stop you.
Personally, I’ve managed to shuffle my work schedule around and work my 37.5 hours in 4.5 days. Monday morning is my writing time, every week. I get up at 6 as if it was a normal work day and I sit in front of my computer for 4 hours. There need to be a very good reason for my bottom not to hit that chair between 8 and noon on Monday.
Use the Writing Time
Did I want to write on Monday mornings? No. Not at first. However, I knew it was a spot on my schedule that I could protect. Past that, it’s all about training. 😉
The first weeks, typing anything was a fierce battle. It’s not easy to write on command. Everyone has a hard time. I stuck with it. No internet, no phone, no nothing. Just me and my computer for 4 hours. By the end of the first month, words flowed as soon as I sat on my chair.
If I can’t write for the rest of the week, I at least get to write on Monday morning. What was first a challenge has now become a natural part of my schedule. If I don’t get to write on Monday morning (I lose about one a month to overtime at work), I feel like something’s missing. I have an urge to write.
Obviously, there still are some Mondays when writing is like pulling teeth but they are few and far apart. The important thing is to stick with it on the bad days, to use the time no matter what.
Reap the Rewards
Keeping up with a specific writing schedule, even if it’s just one day a month, helps condition our behavior. As writing becomes part of the routine, our creativity follows that rhythm.
I’m not saying I’m not creative beside Monday morning (hell no! I’d lose my job if that was the case). I’m saying I’m always creative on Monday mornings. I’m almost getting that giddy, day-before-Christmas feeling at the thought of my weekly date with my characters – granted, there are studs in the lot but that is not what I meant.
Writing time grows to be a moment during which you are sure to write something. It’s a constant. You can trust it to help you keep your deadlines and reach your objectives. It’s like an ensured minimal word count. 😉
That is the strength of a good writing routine.