A Writing Routine That Works (for me)
For consistency and mindful enjoyment.
Originally published in: Writer’s Guild
I’m writing this article from a place where I feel more consistently settled and content with my writing process.
I actually like (most of) the work that I’m producing. More importantly, I am appreciative of the many insights and personal development that have resulted from the writing that I’m doing.
I’ve managed to find, through my own process and work with several amazing (more experienced) writers, a procedure of sorts that helps me to write consistently, mindfully, and joyfully.
I think its necessary to preface this story with the fact that I don’t write full time.
I don’t rely on my writing for a living, and this affords me a certain degree of clarity and freedom around why I write:
I enjoy the process, not the product. I love the way that I’m able to observe, through reflection and concrete evidence, the growth that has resulted from and through writing. I like sharing my work with other people, and the way that it helps me strengthen my vulnerability muscles.
This is not all to say that my writing is purely “recreational”. But my intent is always to produce content that resonates with me, and I’ve been able to find this in everything from creative pieces to travel blogs.
I think that my ability to write diligently and consistently, and my process around it, for example, is something that others could benefit from. That’s why I’m writing this piece.
I don’t publish on a schedule. This is an important point, for me, in and of itself.
The routine I describe below, however, does make it fairly easy for me to publish consistently and have a lot of work to push out if and when I feel the desire. I hope it helps!
My Writing Process
Preparation for Inspiration
Inspiration for writing comes to me in a variety of continually evolving ways.
One thing that’s important to note is that the more I’ve written, the more I’m inspired to write.
I’m better equipped to translate my life experiences and insights in a digestible way, resulting in content that is (what I believe to be) more valuable.
While most of my writing tends to be done in the morning, simply because this is the time where I feel the most creative and capable of producing, there is no rhyme or rhythm to when I want to write beyond solid states of mindset (after a good nights sleep, post-meditation, after sharing ideas with friends and being in inspiring community spaces etc.).
Because I’m struck with ideas that I feel drawn to write about at random times, like on the toilet or in the car, I try to equip myself with tools that help me get all my ideas out onto (sometimes metaphorical) paper.
This means I have a lot of journals lying around.
It means that I utilize the notes app on my phone a lot, make lots of voice recordings, and try to do so in a way that isn’t obtrusive to my being present throughout the day.
The point being: I have a lot of material around me that support the recording of ideas.
I don’t share the romantic idea that if I have a great idea, I’ll remember it when it comes time to write it down.
Even if I can only manage a couple of sentences, I write down something that I can revisit later.
Whenever I have an idea, I try to get as much out as I can in the moment.
This means absolutely no editing or filtering the stream of nonsense that spews out of my brain.
Liberating in and of itself, I really enjoy this process of writing. When I’m allowing myself to write with no obstruction, without focusing on a particular subject, body of research, or audience, it becomes more fun.
It also means that I have something to work with later down the line when I’m trying to refine what it is that I’m writing.
Marinated Things Taste Better
When I finish a word vomit, I let things stew a bit. Just put it away, and only think about it if I feel like it.
I, for one, can’t force good ideas.
This could mean hours, days, or even weeks and months.
Often after writing, I’ll think about the subject of my work throughout the day, and give my mind time to wander.
Not setting myself a schedule to publish on helps me in this: there’s no pressure for me to produce work for the sake of producing it. It makes my writing more enjoyable, and also of a higher quality.
Because I allow myself the space to come back and revisit ideas again and again, I feel as though they have more time to develop and I feel better when I do inevitably share them for others to see.
Pull out an Outline from the Ethers
When I have a lot of words written for one piece, it’s often the case that I realize there are actually a few different things that I am nibbling at. At these times, I’ll take some out and either create a new piece entirely or just delete it.
The ideas, messages or stories that are trying to come through often do so in no particular way that I can discern.
For this reason, I tend to avoid adding titles to my work before I really know what my intention and desire is for the piece.
I find that if I title something before writing it, it can skew what I actually want to say to adhere to the title, rather than the title supporting and highlighting my points.
When I have an idea of what the message is, I try and create some subtitles/sections, even if they won’t actually appear in the piece.
This gives me some semblance of order to work with, and ensures that I don’t get lost in navigation (especially when it comes to writing longer pieces).
Let it Stew Some More
After I do my rough outlining and feel I have a better grip on what I’m actually trying to say, I let it sit some more.
When I’m deep in a writing process, I can become hasty to submit the work, either from excitement or frustration.
Forcing, or allowing, myself to take a backseat reaffirms that my intention is coming from a good place when I come back to my writing with a calmer mind.
I revisit articles that are in the works if and when I feel like it. Pertinent ideas come unbidden at random times, so I’ll often find myself rehashing an idea I’d forgotten about months after the fact.
Life experiences, conversation with others, and similar such things add depth to my writing, so the more I let these experiences compound, the more I feel I am able to develop an article.
…and so I keep letting it sit.
Get a Second (third, and fourth) Opinion
Especially with pieces that I’m particularly excited about and interested in, I like to consult the people in my life that support me (friends, family, teachers, students, etc).
I’ll often send out drafts and in turn receive valuable insights from people that think in completely different ways than I do.
Make Some Final Edits
I’ll then do a few read throughs, both aloud and in my head, to make sure I like how the piece sounds.
I’ll consult the wonder that is a thesaurus, add some pretty pictures, and make sure that I like how everything flows.
Ground, Breathe, and Press that Button!
I‘m never going to be perfect, and won’t be mindful of my actions all the time, but I do my best to ensure I’m present when I put my work out for the world to see.
I’ll often meditate, workout, or spend time with loved ones before submitting an article to make sure that my intention is aligned with what I set it out to be.
I’d encourage you to find an activity that grounds you, like the ones mentioned above, before submitting something.
Then send it out, and give yourself a pat on the back.
It goes without saying that my writing process is not the same for everything I write. What I’ve shared here, however, are commonalities that I found in my work and are things that I hope will be of help to you in your writing.
Thanks for reading!