Getting back into a Writing Routine

Sometimes we all need to have a break from the routines we have set ourselves. Those routines have been put in place to ensure that we get things done, that we write, that we are able to tell our stories. But, on occasion we need to take a step back from these and reassess.

I haven’t written since Thursday. Yesterday, instead of sitting down to my daily writing routine I took the day off to have afternoon tea with my sister, do a bit of shopping and then have a drink with a friend. It was relaxing, different and refreshing to get away from the house and have a day where I did not switch on my laptop at all.

Aristotle-214x300Today I had planned to get back to it. I thought the time away would do me well and I could come back with avengence. Not so. My mind has different ideas. My thoughts are wandering and everytime I think of my characters even they encourage me to distraction and I end up wandering away – to walk in the park, to do the washing, to tidy the room. I’m a whole week behind my schedule to complete the rewrite of That which is left is lostand I find myself shrugging my shoulders: what difference will one more day make?

We do all need a break sometimes. However, the key is to make sure that these breaks are not wasted time, otherwise I end up feeling guilty and dissatisfied with the lack of tangible evidence that defines these breaks. I’m a goal-oriented person: I need to see progress or development to feel I have acheived something everyday. It doesn’t really matter how small those goals are, just so long as they’re there.

So today I’m going to ease myself back in gently. Aim to complete one chapter and find success in this. I have plenty of other things to keep me busy: cleaning, walking the dog, supermarkets….but I know if I concentrate too much on all of these things and neglect my writing entirely by the time tomorrow comes around I won’t feel pleased with my weekend. Even worse will be the feeling on Tuesday when I have to sit down to my writing again, only to find that I’ve lost my thread and I am so far behind.

Small steps. Not too much pressure. And an acknowledgement that we all need time to breathe now and again.

~~~

How do you get back to your writing routines after your time off? How do you know when you need some time away from your writing?
Let me know in comments. Or, Tweet Me.

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9 responses to “Getting back into a Writing Routine

  1. The perils of setting yourself too strict a schedule, as I think you may have done when you planned the completion of the manuscript a while back. I thought, ‘Gee, she’s gonna struggle to stick to that’. But, like you say, what’s one more day? Even the hours you sit trying and failing to get back into the routine are hours closer to the finished article. Like it or not, we all have to work hard, and we all have to slack hard. 🙂

    • You could have warned me about the impending doom of failure… 😛

      But yes, I do like to set myself some ambitious goals on occasion becase they can often motivate me to work that little bit harder. Unfortunately, it can also mean I push myself too much early on and then ‘crash and burn’.

      Even though I might be struggling at the moment I do think of it just as you said: ever hour I sit and try, even if I fail, are hours that I’m closer to the finished manuscript. I have to believe I can do it, even if – right now – I’m not actually ‘doing’ it!

      I don’t want to be the reason I don’t succeed – and that means working hard, as you say. But that also means cutting myself some slack and taking it easy on occasion too.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Further advice and support about future self-set deadlines will be greatfully received 😉
      Take Care,
      Cat

  2. I usually set a small goal for myself. I try to make sure not to have too many distractions or interruptions. Even if I don’t get a chance to publish online, I still try to find time to jot something down in a notebook. My biggest challenge is finding a balance with family, crafts, and writing. Some weeks are better than others. I just try not to let failure discourage me from continuing.

    • Small goals are good because you know that you aren’t setting yourself up to fail. Finding a balance between all those things I want to do, I need to do and I ‘should’ do is definitely a ‘work in progress’ in my life!

      Failure should certainly not discourage you: I wrote a blog post a while ago on how progress can often look like a bunch of failures…

      https://catlumb.com/2013/12/10/progress-looks-like-a-bunch-of-failures/

      Keep at it and congratulate yourself when you have a good week. So many more people surrender after those bad weeks…
      Thanks for stopping by to comment.
      Take Care,
      Cat

  3. When my writing routine short-circuits on account of other routines hogging all the time, I rejigger the other routines, hard.
    I was non-starting on finishing a novella’s second draft, so I switched gears to my full-length novel that was already half done with its third draft. Only…I couldn’t do it. I was too busy with this, that, the other thing that it was too easy to not give time to the edit.
    That was a little over three weeks ago, and I cut half of those routines completely out for the time being. I don’t “need” them, I just liked the goal progression they provided. In that time I’ve had a one week vacation, and knocked out an entire additional quarter of the novel. Tonight (right after I click “Post Comment”) I’m starting on the final part.

    • That sounds like an interesting approach and it seems to be working for you. I have put all my other writing on a shelf until I finish the novel rewrite, but I think sometimes I need to expand my creativity to outside of the novel in order to keep my ideas fresh and my motivation up.

      Altering other routines instead of my writing one is something I would neever have thought to do – will definitely try this in future! Thanks!

  4. The problem with these breaks for me is that each day it makes it a lot harder to find that groove. I’ve not written in about two weeks now and it’s almost like pulling my teeth trying to get back into writing and this is just blog stuff, I shudder to think about what will happen when I pick back up the novel. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again though… your discipline inspires me.

    • Thanks Rilzy – I’m glad I inspire you because you produce some wonderful writing when you get to it! You have a lot going on so sometimes it’s not easy to create that routine in life.

      Hopefully you might find that when you pick the novel back up you’ll be excited to start work on on it. If it is really difficult to get back into it, try the 5m trick – just pormise yourself you’ll write for 5m and then if you’re still struggling, leave it for a bit before trying again. I usually find starting up again is the hardest bit, but relieving the pressure of returning to the hour long sessions I usually do by only commiting 5m seems to work.

      One day at a time, doll, that’s all we can do. 😉 Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.
      Take Care,
      Cat

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