The Secret to a Sustainable Writing Routine

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The first few times I attended a writer’s conference, I wondered why there were no workshops on writing routines.

Wasn’t there a perfect formula that all writers could follow and thrive on?

And if so, why didn’t more people talk about it?

I asked lecturers and fellow attendees about their writing schedules. Did they write daily or weekly? How many hours per week? Did they keep track of their progress by page count or word count? Maybe chapter goals?

A lot of the answers rounded out to “it depends” or were extremely specific; an author who published one book a year claimed he wrote three hours per day, scheduled in times to interact on social media, and even had a reward system to keep him on track. And yet many other authors said he was the anomaly.

None of the answers satisfied my curiosity and so I continued to experiment on my own.

Over the years I’ve tried many techniques: writing at the same time every day, setting chapter, page, or word count goals, mapping progress on an excel spreadsheet, going on a walk before writing, having absolutely no conscious routine … the list goes on!

 What I found was that no matter how long I managed to maintain a specific writing routine, eventually, for one reason or another, I fell off the wagon.

But what I also found was that despite changing things up every week, month, or year, one vital factor stayed the same: I kept on writing.

So when I talk about maintaining a sustainable writing routine, I’m not talking about sustaining the same routine day after day, month after month, year after year.

I’m talking about adapting to what works for you at any given time in your life.

Because the writing process itself is fluid—there are times you will be writing pages upon pages for months, and other months where not a page will get written. But in that writing downtime you may be researching, waiting for beta readers to respond, outlining for a new project, or reading comparison titles. I’d say those are all productive and necessary parts of the writing process!

So if you’re looking for the secret to a sustainable writing routine here it is: learn to adapt.

Because the more receptive you are to making changes when necessary, the more successful—and sustainable—your routine will become.

What’s the longest you’ve sustained a specific writing routine?