So, as you are all aware, I’m supposed to be writing a novel consisting of 60,000 words in the month of April. With my current word count far more behind than it ought to be (2921 words), I’ve been thinking about why I’m finding this challenge far more difficult than I ought to be.
I guess it is because of the fact that I’ve not been very strict about my writing routine. This is a fundemental part of the writing process. When I was in my initial meeting with my IP tutor prior to the challenge, he said that setting aside a couple of hours a day, daily, at the same time each day would be a sure-fire way of succeeding with the challenge. He suggested in the morning, before carrying on the rest of the day.
And, on Day #1, this idea worked out pretty well. I guess it was a mix of excitement to get started, the idea being very fresh in my mind, and not booking any activities until later on in the day.
However, as time rolled on, I was ending up doing activities in the morning, like seeing relatives and friends, and getting distracted with shopping, television and Sims 4. I’d get told off by my aunt, then be asked if I wanted to go out the next morning. The whole routine was thrown out of whack and completely de-motivated me, I lost my train of thought within the story I was trying to tell, and am feeling completely and utterly lost. Add an extra week away that I wasn’t planning, and days merging together, and you get a novel that just isn’t being written.
But I’m back home now, and in complete control of my routine once again.
And I’ve realised that I’ve not been working to my advantage, as I don’t work very well in the morning. My creative and energetic peak tends to be mid-afternoon to early evening. And that is when I ought to be planning my writing time, not in the morning when I am lethargic and tired. I’m one of those oddballs that gets more awake as the day goes on, rather than more tired. And that is something I should actually be working with rather than against.
Sure, writing in the morning works well for a lot of writers, but it isn’t a one-time-suits-all kind of life. One time might work for my IP tutor, but not so well with me. No one writer is the same as another when it comes to their writing routine, and this is something that I have come to realise whilst working on this project.
So, having a routine makes life a lot easier when writing, as well as in general life. As someone on the autistic spectrum, as well as dealing with ADD, I find once I get a very good, settled routine, I am able to be very productive and motivated. I just need to learn how to figure out a routine for myself without someone else having to support me in the process.
So, how does one set up a writing routine?
Think about these points:
1) When do you find yourself at your peak in productivity? Morning, Afternoon, Evening or Night?
2) Also, what other commitments do you already have? Work? Education? Housework? Social?
3) When do you find yourself feeling lethargic and tired, and more likely to procrastinate?
4) What do you intend to achieve in the time you set in your writing time?
5) How long can you focus on a creative task comfortably?
Once you’ve thought about these things, plot them onto a piece of paper in a way that is appropriate to you (I draw out my routine based on an academic timetable so I can fit in my lectures and seminars, study sessions and support sessions), just make sure everything is clear. Then pop it onto somewhere you’ll see it every day (I pin mine on the fridge), and make sure you stick to it. That last part is up to you disciplining yourself to keep on track with the routine.
If, like me, you find it really difficult to stick to something like this, don’t fret or panic. You are not a terrible writer/housekeeper/student/employee/partner/parent/human, promise! Just make sure you timetable time for slip-ups, and don’t beat yourself up about it!
So, in all, routine = more writing!