So much of writing advice out there is “write everyday”. Or select a goal and write to your goal. For example, write ten minutes a day. Or one thousand words a week. Other advice says that if you only have one day a week to write then schedule that day and write on that day every single week.
None of this advice works for me. I struggle with schedule, routines, and concentration.
I know that the muse won’t come to me unless I put my butt in the chair. However, I can’t write much if I can’t concentrate due to life circumstances. I have conditions that give me insomnia, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain. These all effect my ability to concentrate. And staring at a blank screen daily can be discouraging. So, often I go days or weeks without writing because I don’t really have a routine. I struggle to find a way to create routines in my life because my available energy, concentration, and motivation are so variable.
How can I come up with a writing routine that won’t make me feel like a miserable failure the first time I miss a writing session?
Disgruntled Della (ze/ zir)
The Universe has been around for a long time and is expansive. Routines and habits do not form overnight. They take time to form. Some shorter and some longer, but all take time over the course of our learning the mysteries of the Universe.
I think you are battling with several issues here:
Firstly, you wish to figure out a routine that works for you. Secondly, your thinking about routines and habits is rigid, which is making you think in all or nothing terms. Thirdly, you are dealing with perfectionism. What is the point if I can’t do it right all the time?
Let us break this down. I think you need to take some time away from others’ advice about what works for them when they are exploring the Universe and ask yourself. What works for you? What are you wants? What are your needs? What are your challenges? This could be a brainstorming session or journaling over several days. I personally like to go on walks when I am pondering problems in my life. I find that fresh air and movement can give me new perspective. I also find that nature usually provides soothing sights and sounds.
Once you have a rough idea of what you want and need from a new habit or routine, then before you think about implementing it, I want you to take a step back. I know this is hard. You know what you want know. And you want to jump right in! However, taking a step back will allow you to examine your thinking. I see a pattern of all or nothing in the way you are approaching this. However, I want you to try and build some flexibility into your thinking. Building a routine is something that requires a both/and thinking. You need to stick to what you want to change for a period of time (usually months) for it to become more natural, but you also need to give yourself the room to have a bad day. There is room to make a mistake. Or ten mistakes. The Universe is forgiving.
Your habit and/ or routine will still take root in you miss one time, but keep going. However, if you miss one time, and stop that is when it will not take root. Because you have stopped.
It seems to me, from this letter, that your stopping comes from a sense of perfectionism. “If I miss one time I am failure,” or “I feel like a failure.” However, the truth of the matter is that so long as you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and keep going you are on the road to success. Habits are a process. Creating a routine is a process. This is not a singular event in your life. You are on a journey — so enjoy the scenery— and don’t mind too much if you have to take a few detours. Because it is about the journey and not about the destination.
With all this in mind, once you know your wants and needs, then you can work a bit on your thinking before you start your journey. The Universe will be there waiting for you!