Setting a routine

In Pinteresting as much inspiration as possible for ARCHANGEL ONE I kept coming across a common theme in writing quotes. No matter which author it was coming from the theme was the same - writing is also about setting a routine and disciplining yourself to stick to that routine.

Surely not, I thought, going on to Pinterest vintage sci-fi images from the 70s until my heart was a riot of hypercolor and cylindrical robots. Surely writing is just inspiration and scribbling away whenever it hits? Surely hundreds of pages would fly forth at this moment and your novel would be completed in a week, a blur of laptop and coffee.

I can be so naïve sometimes.

Blanketed with same naivety I started writing ARCHANGEL ONE, envisioning floods of writing pouring forth from my fingers. I very quickly learnt that while your mind might be full of ideas and half composed scenes, your body is less inclined to sit at a laptop. My burning need to write lasted a week before I began to lag. Tiredness begged me to go to bed at a normal time rather than sit up and write for hours. The lazy Sunday I planned writing filled itself up with family time and binge watching the Sopranos. I reasoned it was only a day I'd missed in my schedule, then two days, then an entire weekend had passed and the laptop had stayed closed. Guilt washed over me and I tried to force myself to sit down at the laptop and write. I wrote a page of stilted conversation before I turned the laptop off.

What you don't see is the blank screen on the other side.

Setting and sticking to a routine in writing is one of the most important things you can do to become disciplined in your craft and to ensure you actually finish your projects. The failed Nanowrimo attempts of 2014-2016 I have are proof of this!

I felt guilty about not writing and then slightly rebellious of wanting to shuck a routine. It's different to other aspects in my life, like my work, where I have a routine every day. So why couldn't I stick to a routine in my writing? Why had I suddenly become such an undisciplined little git, causing havoc and guilt for myself by just not sticking to a routine?

I decided to take a couple of days off writing, spending that time binge watching my favourite TV shows and reading instead. Suddenly I wanted to write, scribbling ideas down and thinking of ways to resolve plot bunnies I'd been struggling with. As soon as I took the expectation off myself the desire to write came back. My tiredness vanished and I found myself sitting back at my laptop, headphones in my lap.

I've come to the conclusion that setting a routine and sticking to it is definitely important or we'd never get anything done. Setting time in that routine to take a break and recharge your batteries is just as important! I've rejigged my writing routine now to include time to just relax, sleep, read, whatever I feel like doing. It takes the weight of expectation off me and I've found that when I am on a writing day I write more.

We put so much expectation on ourselves, particularly if you compare yourself to everyone else on Instagram but that's another post! How about scheduling some time to rest in your writing routine?