Writing Habits: Routines–or Ruts?

I love routines! It streamlines the daily business of life and lets me get more done. I have some habits (like how I brush teeth or do dishes) that haven’t changed in years–maybe decades. They work efficiently.

Writers have habits too, and I think that’s a good thing. It streamlines daily chores like email, website updating, reading professional journals and blogs, and other writing-related chores.

BUT…routines can become ruts without anyone noticing.

Habits: A Slippery Slope

You may suspect your routines have become ruts if you are more bored than inspired when you sit down to write. When all your writing has the same tired voice, when you continually repeat subjects and themes–it may be a sign that your writing routines have become ruts.

So how do you break out of ruts? Try making changes in some of these areas:

  • Writing area: choose another place to write, change the furniture around in your office, move your desk to the window, clean up the clutter, make a traveling writer’s bag for the airplane or car
  • Time: even if you’re a morning person, try writing during the lunch hour or in ten-minute segments every hour on the hour; try a Saturday morning
  • Length of session: experiment with writing daily for short periods, writing daily for longer periods, writing just on the weekend
  • Tools of your trade: experiment with writing longhand, writing on a laptop, using online journals, Internet vs. library research
  • Sound: if you’re used to writing in total silence, try background music you love or a white noise machine (mine makes raindrops and ocean wave sounds)
  • People: if you always write alone, try writing with a group or joining a critique group (in person or online)
  • Body position: try writing at your desk, standing up, lying in bed or a lounge chair, curled up in the porch swing

Mix It Up

If you’ve lost some enthusiasm for your writing, it may be nothing more than you’ve allowed your routines to become boring ruts. Try mixing it up a bit. Choose another time, place, and position to write. Change your environment with new sounds or new people. See what that does to your creativity.

What about you? What writing habits will you always keep–and where do you like to make changes? Let’s share ideas!

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2 Responses to Writing Habits: Routines–or Ruts?

  1. Solid, practical advice.

    I don’t have a routine at the current time. Too many other projects. I have another book on Proverbs that lacks only a few pages, and it has been at this point for about a year. Routine is a friend of writers, and I’m going to re-establish one. Good post!

  2. kwpadmin says:

    Warren, you’re so right. Routine is a friend of writers. It’s usually near the end of a book that I feel like I’m in a rut. At that time, a change of scenery or time helps me get refreshed and push on to finish.

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