You’ve asked.* Here’s my answer. How to start and keep a writing routine?
It’s best first thing in the morning, as we established. (Whatever, and whenever, morning is). This means I’m still wearing pajamas, because—
Hoo boy. That was a good one. I almost wrote that I “haven’t changed out of pajamas yet.” As though I ever…wow.
But yeah, humor me. Let’s pretend I’m about to change into real clothes. And let’s also pretend, while we’re at it, that I’m not covered in marinara sauce from many days ago. Dream on.
We’ve also established that it’s best to simply sit down and start letting the ideas flow with as few distractions as possible. This is the unique power of the morning.
But what to write?
Ah, the classic writer’s block.
Since time immemorial…
Webster’s Dictionary defines writer’s block as…
I was born on November…
It all started when…
I guess it depends on why you’re bothering to write in the first place. Do you want to write that novel that’s been pent up inside you, causing you a gut-ache, for years? This is your time to shine, baby. Do you just want a writing routine because everyone is saying it’s so good for self-care right now? Maybe do that. Or maybe it’s time to finally write that tell-all Medium post about the person who wronged you. I love that for you.
In any case, conventional wisdom says that all there is to do is start writing whatever words are on your mind. A “free write,” as they call it.
I’ve heard this is a good idea, but whenever I try it, it’s a surefire route to complete eradication of all thoughts. I guess, ironically, I should attempt a free-write every time I want to meditate. And, as it happens, I’d be better off trying to meditate when I actually want to generate writing ideas. Oh brain, you contrary cad.
For me, and this is just my Process® so take it with a grain of salt, but I need to outline ahead of time. If I’m working on a novel, the first fifty steps or so toward getting any real words out on the page are writing several different outlines.
But how do I write an outline, you ask me, tears forming in your eyes? Well, here’s what I do. I ask: what do I think happens, super broadly, in the book? I write that down, even if it’s just ten words. Eventually the outline becomes a gargantuan beast with pages and pages of notes, and that’s the point at which I’m probably ready to begin writing actual scenes and paragraphs.
Yeah, you protest, but how do you get from ten words to a gargantuan outline?
Well, I smile knowingly and ever-so-slightly smugly, the answer is that I do it the exact same way I push this incredible Content out to you every day of the week: by always encouraging dear sweet Brain to feed me ideas at inopportune times. Keep a Google Doc or any other similar cloud-based writing implement on your phone and other devices at all times, and you too can scream EUREKA (out loud, if you please) and mentally duck out of an important meeting to jot down how that analogy to Bill Clinton will really spice up your romance novel about the life of Cyrus the Great of Persia.**
Okay, Brain is getting me distracted, and editing is not allowed on psycho-pomp.com, so here we are. But let’s circle back to the point of this post, because I’m getting hungry for some breakfast:
Quaroutine Writing Routine is just like any little activity you might be interested in doing when you’re stuck at home, which is to say: sit down and let yourself be taken in by it for five minutes. At the end of five, you can leave if you want. Or you can let it be ten, or fifteen, or an hour and a half. And if an idea has taken you by the hand, let it lead you where it wants to go.
**Don’t steal my idea.