Sunday 3 October 2021

Nerd Church - The Writer Diaries: No, I Don't Have A Writing Routine


There's a lot of writing advice out there. Like, a lot.

So much so in certain online spaces that sometimes you wonder if anyone's not writing about writing.

But then, I'm writing a blogpost for a sub-series called 'The Writer Diaries' so I'm clearly standing in a glass house and holding a rock, about to lob it over my head. 😅

'The Writer Diaries: No, I Don't Have A Writing Routine' written, scribble-style, on a crumpled paper background

A lot of the writing advice I've seen around on the *waves hands* general interwebs lately has been about writing routines.

Which wouldn't be a problem - writing routines help a lot of people. 

Except more than a few of them have given me the general impression of 'OMG if you don't have a writing routine then you're writer-ing wrong!'

And? Honestly? F**k that.

So weird.

(No, I'm not linking posts that do this - 

I thought about it, and then decided it would either 

a) require me to link a lot of people/articles, to an extent that neither I, nor probably you, have the energy for, 


b) hold up a small number of specific people as examples of egregious 'you should'-ers, and that felt like a sh**ty thing to do in this instance.

If you really want examples, just type 'writing routine' or 'you need a writing routine' or something similar into a search engine - you'll find things, I'm sure.)

That's not to say you can't have a writing routine!

If that's your thing, than go at it. Have fun!

But I can't be dealing with that 'this is the way that you writer' sh**.

There is nothing that will make me less happy to write than having to do the exact same routine every time.

I don't react to the same exact things in the same exact ways every day, because I'm not exactly the same person every day - no-one is. 

I - personally - find that the best thing to do as far as either writing or productivity is concerned is to work with how I feel today. Maybe that'll change in future, but that's OK too.

People have different moods, different states of mind, etc. - and that means that while some people may crave the structure of a rigid routine, others (hi!) need to adapt their process according to how they feel in the present moment.

(Or just throw the process out the window entirely and hope for the best - s'all good!)

So let's take a look at some of the 'writing routine' advice I've seen floating around the webs:

Have a drink (no, not alcohol, Hemingway, calm down.)

I don't know where this idea came from (maybe a natural progression of 'drink water' self-care advice, but who knows?,) but I've seen it on several 'have a routine' posts.

Apparently it tells your brain that now is *jazz hands* Writer's Time!

It tells my brain that I will need to pee sooner rather than later.

If I'm thirsty, I'll get a drink. Otherwise? I won't. 

(Not least because it seriously ups the chances of my keyboard and/or notebook getting soaking wet, or my cats sticking their noses in my Diet Coke or coffee.)

Write in the same place/at the same time

Spoken like people who own their own home and aren't trying to simultaneously run their own business from their parents' dining room table. 

And possibly don't have pets or parents to supervise. (Having parents is the same as having children sometimes; I swear, I'm the adult here.)

I have a vague aim for my WIP (work-in-progress) of 'some time after six o'clock I will fit at least eight minutes of writing in on the 'puter,' and another of 'some time before bed I will write at least ten words in my notebook.'

But that's it.

Grand total of my specifics, right there. (And FYI, I often end up doing more, but having a teeny tiny baseline means it's easier to do something every day.)

And if I don't manage to fit it in? That's OK too - I really wanted to, but life happens. I'll do it tomorrow.

As far as blogging goes... I'm pretty much a whirlwind of creative chaos, not gonna lie. 😅😁

Have a quiet place


See previous point.

Listen to music/don't listen to music

I've seen posts that argue vehemently that you MUST ALWAYS listen to music when you write - maybe even the exact same song - because it will stimulate your neural pathways and/or let you know that it's Time To Write.

I've seen the same number of posts argue vehemently that you MUST NEVER listen to music when you write, because music is a distraction and you are a Serious Writer who must do nothing else when it's Time To Write.

Honestly? Chillax, my dearest nerdlets.

If you wanna listen to music when you write, then do so. If you find it too distracting, then don't. 

If some days you wanna rock out to heavy metal ( helps me to get sh** done, not gonna lie,) but other days you want something soft, or can't stand to listen to music at all, then guess what?

IT'S OK. Do what's best for you, when it's best for you. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.

Forget you're human

Get up at five am, go for a run while simultaneously listening to an audiobook and composing fifty blogposts on your phone, then work for approximately 20hrs per day and...

Stop, stop, stahp! Peidiwch! Stopio! Stop!

You're a hooman bean (probably - hello to any cats reading! Let it be known when you take over the world, that I know where the foodies cupboard is.)

This is a problem that goes beyond 'writing routine' advice and seeps out into a large chunk of the writing and productivity advice on the Internet - it expects you to do too much. 

Save yourself the time and nonsense. 

You are not a machine, you're a person. People are messy and beautiful and need rest and time off and support and chillaxation and to walk the dog and pay the bills and...

Let yourself be a person. Because - as I keep trying to remind myself - you do not need to work yourself into the ground in order to have value as a human being; you're already there.

At the end of the day, that's the big secret: 

You're a person - a whole person. So do what works for you, when it works for you, because it's something that works for you.

If you want a schedule, go for it! You want a regular routine? Hell yeah! Do it.

You wanna wing it on the back of envelopes? There might be some logistical issues, but hell if you can make it work without stressing you out? DO IT.

You make the rules. Not me, and not any other random internet writer out there.

You're in charge. So do what works for you.

Do you have a writing routine?

Do you think online writing advice can get too prescriptive?

Or am I talking cr*p?

Talk to me! 😊💬

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  1. So many people come out so strong with their writing advice, but yeah, the real best advice is just to find what works for you. Knowing what other people do can help you try new things, but ultimately one thing will never work for everyone!

    1. So true! No one thing works for just little old me, tbh ;) <3

  2. I don't have a writing routine either. My routine is switching it up on any given day and just doing the things that suit my needs! The only really good writing advice I've received is to look at a piece of writing with fresh eyes. It's amazing how much I'm able to catch after I sit back and rest my eyes, and then return to the piece! But other than that, a lot of writing advice just doesn't work for me.

    1. Oh you can def. be staring at something for too long and not be able to judge it properly - it gets to the point with stuff I'm preparing for work clients that I make my mother check it for mistakes sometimes, like if I don't have time to let it rest, before I pass it on to the customer because I'm like, I've been looking at this for **so** long that my brain knows what it's *supposed* to be, and is telling me that version, instead of telling me what I've actually written, lol.


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