It doesn’t matter who you are, or how good you are at writing, there is one thing that will change your life, if it isn’t part of it already:
A writing routine.
I know, I know, your probably thinking “well, duh!”, but answer me this – do you write every single day? If the answer is yes, then good for you! You know what I’m talking about. If the answer is no, then you are missing out.
You see, having a writing routine is secretly magical.
Your end of the deal is simple: you show up every day and write. You don’t need to write for hours – 10 or 15 minutes is a great start! We’re trying to build up a comfortable and fun daily habit here. So telling yourself “I’m going to write 5,000 words a day – my novel will be done in less than two weeks!” immediately sets you up for failure and disappointment – even full-time literary geniuses will miss that kind of target.
You just need to turn up and write. Do nothing else; no checking your phone, Facebook, Twitter, the news, that lone website on the internet with those funny cat pictures. Do nothing but write, and even if after 15 minutes all you end up with is your name on the top of the page, you’re done. You’ve turned up. You’ve played your part.
Keep this up for a few days. Just try it out.
After a surprisingly short amount of time your brain decides “Oh hey, it’s writing time” and gives you all the words you could want, often arranged in a pleasing order. You don’t have to fight yourself any more – your mind knows what this time is for, and lets you get down to it!
If you aren’t sure what to write, don’t worry. You can plan ahead, slotting in any projects you are already working on into this time, or write a stream of consciousness passage about the crazy Jake guy who insists that you write every day. If you choose to work on an existing project, make sure you spend this time on honest-to-goodness-actual-words-going-on-the-page writing, not planning or editing (both of which are important, but not helpful for what we are trying to achieve with this process).
Set aside as much time as is comfortable each day to write, but again, 10 or 15 minutes is a grand start for this process. You’ll probably find you will naturally spend more and more time each day writing, which is great! I like the idea of writing toward being read, as it keeps you on your toes. Consider setting up a free blog on WordPress and publishing what you’ve written there – though of course you don’t have to.
I picture the daily writing routine as torchlight, that gets brighter and brighter the more you write each day. Eventually you can shine that light into all the dark corners of the human spirit, and allow the world to more clearly see your stories, your ideas and itself. You will get better and you will find that a piece of you that you didn’t even know was missing has been restored.
It really is magical, I promise.