7 ways to get back into your writing routine
We're almost two weeks into the new year but I'm still finding bits of tinsel behind the armchair and recovering from Christmas noshing. The festive holiday is gone in no time but two weeks of children at home and celebrating have knocked my writing routine into the nether regions of time and space. Here's how I plan to get back into the writing habit.
- Mark out a regular slot for your writing and guard it fiercely. Now the children have returned to school and the house is back to relative normality, I have made a promise to myself that I will write every week day morning, be that a blog article, a play for my business or working on my novel. I put on a wash when I'm getting the children ready for school. The rest of the housework can wait until after lunch. Between returning from the morning school run and fixing myself a sandwich, I write.
- Get an A4 or, if you can manage it, an even larger piece of paper and divide it into two columns. Label the first column 2010 and the second column 2011. Under 2010, make a list of all the writing you did last year. It might be that you wrote articles for a blog or magazine. Perhaps you started a novel, or even finished one. Anything you wrote, make a note of it. Now under the 2011 column, write down which of these you want to continue in the new year. Perhaps novel writing isn't for you but you got a real buzz writing that magazine article. The blog may not have worked out but you discovered a love for short story writing. Decide what you want to concentrate on in 2011 and shape your writing slot around it.
- I know we're all a bit poor in January but there's always room for a small indulgence. Buy yourself a new pad and pen to use for your writing. You may still type up your writing but having a new pad and pen (I like the glittery gel pens - yes, I know I'm not five years old anymore but they make me smile) to make notes, jot down ideas and record books you would like to read can be a joy, especially in the greyness of January.
- Keep a journal, perhaps using the pad you bought for yourself. I'm not necessarily talking about a diary, although you can use your journal for that too. My own journal includes diary entries, lists, pieces of dialogue I think up in the middle of the night, ideas, characters, news stories that catch my attention and the occasional doodle too. Treat your journal as a safe dumping ground for your imagination.
- Most writers know of the dreaded internal editor who constantly interrupts the flow of our writing to point out how a tweak here and a re-write there would make this paragraph so much richer. Well, most of us also have the Yes But Monster hanging around in our lives too. You sit down to write and suddenly a whining voice whispers "Yes but the ironing pile is getting very high," or "Yes but those photographs really do need sorting through," or some other task that desperately needs our attention that very minute. There will always be something we could be doing instead of writing. Learn to park the guilt and kick the Yes But Monster out for at least twenty minutes.
- This may shock you. I apologise in advance if this suggestions offends you. However, it may not be as bad as it sounds. Here goes. Turn away from the computer, or if you really must use it, close everything down except the word processing package. Turn off your mobile phone. No, don't just put it on vibrate. Actually switch it off. Turn off the TV too, and the radio, in fact any gadget that can steal away your attention. If you can't bring yourself to unplug the landline then promise to ignore it if it rings. Better still, take yourself away to a part of the house where you can't hear the telephone ring. Without these distractions, commit yourself to twenty minutes of writing. It doesn't matter if it's complete rubbish or unlinked to anything else you're writing. What matters is that you are writing.
- Just do it.