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Writing Routines: Rethinking What Works

An old-fashioned alarm clock is pictured on the right side of the picture and the post title, Writing Routines: Rethinking What Works is on the left.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Routines are wonderful–until they’re not.

I’m a very routine-driven writer. Actually, I’m routine-driven, period.  I’m a lot more productive when I can keep my malfunctioning brain out of my process…if I run on automatic pilot.

I think my changing routines will resonate with any writing parents.

When I had small children, my routine was to write while my son was in elementary school and my daughter was either watching Elmo’s World (she’d only watch 5 minutes of television) or napping.  I’d get my daughter settled and then open up my laptop.

This worked well–until it didn’t.  My daughter stopped taking naps, but she started with preschool. I could write (and do a million other things) while she was in school.

That, naturally, didn’t stay the routine for very long.  Before I knew it, both of my children were in school and I was fitting in writing and editing and building an online platform for myself in between carpools and errands and other things.

Soon they were in different schools with different hours of operation. This meant a couple of different carpools.  I learned to write while in carpool lines.

When they grew older and got up very early for school (the high school late bell is 7:20), I got up an hour before they did to work while the day was still fresh and full of possibilities.  I found that, sometimes, days could be knocked dramatically off-course as the day went on.

We got a new corgi puppy on Friday. :)  I have a feeling that, once again, my morning routines are going to be changing.

A tri-color corgi puppy named Finn who belongs to author Elizabeth Spann Craig.

The point is that it’s good to evaluate what works every now and then. I used to think very self-limiting things: I can only work well in the mornings. But then I found the more flexible I could be with my schedule and my writing, the more I could get accomplished.

Over the years, I’ve asked myself:

Besides first thing in the morning (which always works for me), when else can I fit in writing time?

Am I too distracted at home?  If so, is the library or a coffee shop better?

If I write later in the day, how does it go? Is it a good or a bad draft?

Do you ever change up what works? Has anyone else had dramatic changes in what works for them?

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Photo credit: Βethan via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND