Spin That Routine On Its Head

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

The most common writing advice is: write every day. The idea is fabulous, but I’d like to put a twist on it that will give it more value. Write every day that you can. The difference is that “every day” routines fail when life with multiple levels of responsibility take precedence to the writing. It isn’t that we want it to be that way. That responsibility might be our families, our jobs, our fitness routines, residence management, financial management, reading, sleeping, and eating. We can’t do it all. What we can do, is break things up and fit in the writing and all those other things, in increments.

For me, it’s a weekly assessment. What project is going on at work – will there be overtime or early mornings? Which kid is sick and going to need a visit to the doctor? What volunteer task did I nominate myself for at school? What bills need to be paid? What portion of my workout needs to be done – weights vs cardio? On the crazy weeks, it turns into a daily assessment. And if something goes wrong, it gets reassessed.

This works only when I promise myself to fit bits of it all in there. It’s helped me learn to write fast because I might only get a half hour one day, or an hour over the course of two days. It means I need to be flexible about where I am. Maybe the writing gets done in a notebook while my son is in his speech session. Or maybe I read that story for critique while my daughter is doing her homework. Or the slush gets read while the water for the pasta is boiling. Or I challenge myself and wait until everyone’s in bed and push out as many words as a I can.

It’s not as stressful as it sounds. It’s just a matter of give and take. Some weeks, the ‘rest of my life’ takes more. Other weeks, the writing takes more. My husband watched the kids most of one weekend while I wrote a 20k novella over the span of 3 days.

What’s the key to a successful routine? For me, it’s a combination of wanting it and having movable pieces in your day. I organize the other pieces of my life in order to fit this crucial writing piece. The reason why this works? Because I cannot allow myself to become stuck in one routine. I need the variance. If I had the same routine every day, I’d constantly leave out things I need or want to do.  I enjoy being busy and trying to fit too much in. (Yes, I actually said that).

Do you have a routine or are you still trying to work yours out? What challenges are you facing? Do you need flex in your schedule or do you work better with a rigid plan?

Happy Writing

Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic,  “Writing Routines”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Next up is Raven on the 7th.

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3 responses to “Spin That Routine On Its Head

  1. Oh, so very much need flex in my schedule!

    I love the idea of using “movable pieces.” I shall have to try to think of it that way.

  2. Yes to flex! There are just too many unforseen things that happen (right now it’s 8pm and I’m still stuck at work) and its not healthy to sweat it. As much as I can is enough :)

  3. I have managed to write every day for a while, though I’ve never set myself a time or word count limit. And some days, it’s just been fifteen minutes and three sentences. But as long as something got done, I felt okay.

    My kids tend to need a fixed schedule, so I usually can work my writing into nap/quiet time. But we’re also champions of letting our routine fall apart (usually by everything slipping later and later in the day) so I’m pretty flexible about when I get things done.

    As long as it works for you, it’s a good routine!

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