Making a writing routine that works every time.
My procrastination knows no bounds, and it was whilst I was researching something unnecessary for a book I was writing I came across the idea of ‘activation energy’.
Activation energy is the least possible amount of energy which is required to start a reaction.
And it got me thinking. What if I thought about it in terms of my writing life?
What if I were to create a system whereby I required the least amount of energy to be able to start my reaction, my writing? Because, at the end of the day, writing is not some magical thing, your muse doesn’t pop up some days and hide on others (though heaven knows it can feel like it). Writing is a talent, something you have to work at to improve, even on the bad days.
So, here are my top tips for decreasing your activation energy and forming a writing routine that you can work with even on your most sluggish days:
You probably all know what I’m going to say: have a time to write. For me, this means getting up an hour earlier than I actually have to, for you it might mean going to bed an hour later, having a shorter lunch break. Whatever it is, find what works for you and stick to it. Having a designated writing time, at least during the working week, will mean that you don’t even have to think about finding time to write, you’ll just already have it. And when you have this time just sitting there, waiting for you to write something in it… it’s much easier to get started, even if it’s only because you feel guilty if you don’t!
We all know there are different type of writers and most of us think that our way is definitely preferable. For me, this means plotting. Knowing where my characters are going, the journey they’re going to take to get there, and what I want them to learn along the way. For others this might be pantsing the whole thing, and whilst the thought of that makes me physically shudder, I understand that we’re all different. But, however you do it, you need to have a game plan. A goal of what you’re writing session should include to be deemed ‘successful’. Is that a word count? A scene you need to get to? Even just a paragraph you want to perfect? Whatever it is, write it down somewhere and glue yourself to the chair until it’s done. The sense of achievement you’ll get, knowing that you completed that goal will make the session feel much more rewarding, encouraging you to come back the next day and just knowing that you only have to write 1,500 words, or whatever scene it is, will make it much easier to start, and if you surpass that then, good on you!
I’m not about to tell you that you need Scrivener to write a good book, or even that you need a laptop. If that’s not your thing, fine. But, you do need to be writing in a way that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out. If your keyboard is missing a few letters, or all your pens are running out of ink, it’s all going to dent your enthusiasm for writing. Try to make the process as seamless for yourself as it possibly can be, make the actual act of getting the words down on screen or paper a joyful one. Whether that means a different word processor or new fountain pen. Anything you can do to minimise distractions and let the words flow will be a job well done and will definitely make it easier to get those words down in the first place.
Overall, decreasing your activation energy is about finding what works for you, making time for the things that you deem important and ensuring that you know where you’re headed, giving yourself a light at the end of the tunnel, whether that be in the form of a bribe or a break, and knowing that as long as you give it a go then you’re achieving something brilliant.