Writing is hard.
Staring at a blank page waiting for words to come is one of the most grueling and disheartening experiences. It’s maddening.
Of course, you already know that. You’re a writer. This is your job. The real question is—how do you overcome this mind-numbing roadblock and get productive?
The Trouble with Disorganization
We writers tend to be notoriously disorganized creatures. We see squirrels and we chase them. This sort of high-alert brain function can be great for solving story problems, but it can be a real beast to slay when it comes to consistent productivity.
In our fast-paced lives, it can be incredibly difficult to find time to sit down and write. After all, we’ve got dozens of other responsibilities to juggle; jobs, families, finances, friendships, etc. That’s a lot of squirrels—and we can’t just ignore them.
The solution? Habits.
Building a Routine
Contrary to what some may believe, habits are not a writer’s enemy; they’re your friend. As Stephen King said, “Habit is the bed of creativity, so tuck yourself in.” Another famous author, William Faulkner, stated: “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
Today I want to share five morning habits you can add to your writing routine.
HABIT #1: DON’T HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON
I’m really bad at this one. I like my sleep. I like my bed, especially on these crisp autumn mornings. Getting up is hard. But each time you hit the snooze button, you’re losing precious writing time. So drag yourself out of bed, pour some coffee, and settle in. You can do this!
HABIT #2: DON’T TOUCH THE INTERNET
Considering the magnetic nature of the internet, this is a real struggle. If you’re anything like me, the first thing you hear in the morning is your alarm, which comes from your phone. So of course, you pick up your phone to turn it off, but then—oh look—Instagram! Facebook! Email! It’s like that kid’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’ve lost control. You can kiss productivity goodbye for at least an hour. So don’t open the black hole until you’ve finished your priority work.
HABIT #3: OPTIMIZE YOUR ATMOSPHERE
Where do you do your best work? At your kitchen table? Your desk? A coffee shop? Find that place and get settled. Do you work best in silence? How about some nice jazz music? What about diffusing some of your favorite essential oils? Be intentional about creating the optimal environment for your productivity and creativity. If you’re not sure what that is, play around a little and find out what works best for you.
HABIT #4: READ A BOOK
Some days, you may need to warm up before diving into the blank page. Cracking open a good book is a great way to get the creative juices flowing without the pressure to crank out words. Think of it like an exercise: conditioning for your mind. Take some time to sit quietly with a cup of coffee and read a chapter before getting to work.
HABIT #5: TAKLE YOUR PRIORITY WRITING FIRST THING
Have a goal in mind from the get-go. What do you want to accomplish? Writing a chapter? Reaching a word count? Narrow down your priorities and focus on the most important ones as soon as you sit down at your desk. Take thirty minutes or an hour—or more, if you can—and dive in before the distractions of the day have had a chance to take hold. Don’t stop until you’re finished or your time runs out.
Forming solid writing habits can be tricky, especially if you’re a busy person, as most of us are. But I want to challenge you to give it a shot. Get up slightly earlier, or, if you’re a night owl, block out a chunk of time in the evening and set up your routine. Most importantly:
- Say no to squirrels (I’m looking at you, internet)
- Don’t stop until your allotted time is up.
It’s amazing how much you can get done in an hour or less when you give yourself the space to truly focus.
- Do you have a morning (or evening) writing routine? What does it look like?
- If you’ve tried incorporating any of these habits into your day, how have they worked for you?
- Do you have any other special habits that have transformed your writing?