Writing routines – One size doesn’t fit all

This is a nice follow-on to Lee’s post yesterday about having deadlines.

Of course it’s good to have a writing routine. How else can we get our writing done? But just like with anything, moderation (flexibility) may be the best course.

There are all sorts of routines that work. Some examples:

  • Sit at the desk  for x minutes or x hours per day x days per week and hope the writing comes, or write and hope it’s usable
  • Have daily word count goals to meet, regardless of how much time it takes
  • Write x hours (or minutes) per day, with no word count goal
  • A routine that is based on type of writing – write blog posts on Mon, articles on Tuesday, queries on Wed, etc.

You get the idea. It all, of course, comes down to what works best and is the least stressful for you.

The writing routine needs to include e-mails, responding to blogs, posting to social media sites, editing work written, and any other type of writing you do on a regular basis.

For me, I’d love to find a large magnetic calendar that has lines and times like an appointment book. I’d like magnets sized into pieces to represent 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and 1 hour. I want to be able to write on these pieces and configure them into any size time block (it 2 hours 15 mins). Then I want to be able to put these pieces onto the large calendar each day in the configuration that will work for that day, and lined up with the appropriate time slot.

weekly appointment page

Appointments and errands are best, for me, early in the morning, yet they aren’t a daily task, and aren’t even weekly or predictable (think sudden doctor appointment or ‘quick run’ to the store for toilet paper). So if my writing routine is 11-2 daily, there will be occasional interruptions and I’ll need to move that time, or a portion of it to earlier or later in the day.

If one routine worked for everyone, it sure would be a time saver. But we’re creative types whose writing requirements don’t fit nicely into little boxes.

Do you have a writing routine you can stick to? Does it depend on the type of writing you’re doing? How do you adjust for paying work versus ideas your are developing into a piece you can sell?

Lisa Jackson is an editor, author, book coach, and chocolate lover. She’s addicted to Sudoku, cafés, and words. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has a blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to chat with writing professionals on a weekly basis — and you can too! ©Lisa J. Jackson, 2010

2 thoughts on “Writing routines – One size doesn’t fit all

  1. Lisa,

    If you ask anyone in my family, they’d say I’m the queen of routine … that I’m rigid and inflexible and like things just so.
    It’s partly true, but when it comes to writing, I feel like I’m always experimenting to find the best “groove.”

    For me, it involves striking a balance between working with inspiration and just getting my butt in the chair. Interestingly, one usually leads to the other, so – in theory – it shouldn’t be that hard to make them work in harmony.

    As for your fantasy of the giant whiteboard with little magnetic labels … coming from the land of project management, I can assure you that such things exist (I’ve used them), BUT you really ought to check out Google Calendar. I’m telling you- it’s that same concept only digital, so it’ll fit in your pocket. 😉 https://nhwn.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/manage-your-time-deadlines-and-sanity-with-one-tool-%E2%80%93-down-with-the-to-do-list/

    Good luck getting your groove on!

  2. Obviously, I’m still struggling to find the writing routine. I am very clear that when I am “in the zone”, it is a feeling like no other, so I press on to find ways to maximize my time “in the zone”.

    I also agree with Jamie, that such a whiteboard either exists or could be custom ordered for a relatively in expensive cost. As for the magnets, you could print those your self on an ink-jet. I have tried Google Calendar, for scheduling to this minute level, but it doesn’t feel right.

    I actually have some ideas floating in my head about how you could do this for short money. Ping me if you want to brainstorm.

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