Over the years, I’ve read a lot about different writers’ routines. Some are morning people, some are night owls. Some have set times during which they write, some grab a notebook at the most random of moments. But let’s be honest. It can be difficult to keep up any type of writing routine. If you have a day job and also enjoy spending time relaxing, there might be a sliver of time you could dedicate to writing each day. Or perhaps you’re not the type of person who enjoys routines. You might find it constricting to set aside a specific time to work on your art. In either case, routines don’t necessarily work. So what do we random writers do?
Earlier this year, Erin Entrada Kelly wrote a post for Writer’s Digest about this very topic. As she says in her post, not having a routine is her routine. If that’s your routine as well, you might find some wisdom in what Kelly has to say. In the article, she says, “Never stop writing—even if in your head. When you’re not writing with pen and paper, write with brain and imagination. Mull over your creative ideas. If you don’t have any creative ideas, look for them. They’re all around you. Example: When I’m at the grocery store, I take a nonchalant glance at what the person behind me is buying. Then I create a whole life for them in my head. Then I look at what I’m buying and wonder what kind of story I’m telling. Basically, do some people watching. People are weird, fascinating creatures.”
I love this advice because it doesn’t force you to create a regimented writing time for yourself. You can always be writing! And writing doesn’t necessarily have to take place with a notepad or computer, or even with the project that you’re currently working on. Of course, making progress on your projects is important, but sometimes it’s nice to write or imagine little one-off stories for yourself. It can keep you on your toes and keep you innovating.
Just remember that you don’t necessarily have to wake up at 5:00 every morning, have a mug of herbal tea, and pet your cat while you sit down to write the next ten pages in your draft. Life is busy! If you can incorporate this writing “with brain and imagination,” as Kelly says, you can write at any time. Try “writing” with your co-workers at break time, at the grocery store, or even during your family dinner. Be continuously creating. And then, when you do get the time, sit down and write out those creations. Happy writing!
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan