I’ve always admired the writers / authors / creators who are able to sit down every day and write. That kind of routine surely keeps productivity high for many. I mean, we’ve all heard the cliche phrases about writing:
- You can’t edit a blank page
- Words are like water in a faucet… you have to open the tap regularly to keep the flow strong.
- Writing is like any muscle… it gets stronger with use.
There are a bunch of sayings like these, and I’ve always believed them. And in a lot of ways, the concepts behind the words is true. I do need to work at least a little bit each day to keep my productivity high. But recently I’ve begun to realize that when it comes to writing – to the production of words – the idea that writing every day is the way to produce the most… isn’t always true for me.
When I wrote my first book, The Keeper, it was in tiny little pieces in the evenings outside of my full-time job. It took a year and a half. My next book was written sitting on my couch in six months. My third and most popular, Like You Mean It, was written at my dining room table in 8 weeks. My fourth was written at my computer and new desk in just a little more than 3 weeks.
It would seem on the outside that some sort of writing routine would have a huge influence on why I was able to produce words at this continually escalating pace. That sitting down every day and letting the words flow helped in the outcome of these stories and in the speed of my writing. And I’ll admit that to some degree, that’s true. Having written the first book took some of the pressure off with each subsequent book. I knew I could do it – write a book from start to finish – so I just needed to sit my butt down and do it again.
But the reality is that I’ve written over a dozen books since my first, and each has had its own rhythm and pacing for how the ideas turned into words, and the words came through my fingers and onto my computer. Some were written over months and months in little spurts here and there as I trudged difficultly through a storyline that just wouldn’t come together until the very end. Others were written in an absolute rampage in just a few weeks, with my neck and butt muscles protesting the long, crazy hours in front of my computer.
The one thing I’ve noticed, though, is that once I’ve utilized a writing pattern, it almost feels like I have sapped my creative subconscious dry when it comes to that specific routine. If I sat on the couch for the complete writing of one book, I can’t get a single word in on that couch for the next one. If I wrote in the evenings for another book, the next will come in early morning spurts.
Each book and routine has been drastically different, and it’s only recently that I’ve decided I need to be okay with that. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped trying to pressure myself into a working style that, honestly, might actually make me less creative.
I’ve tried to teach myself to sit down and write every day. But the words I create in those moments always feel forced and stale. And sure, if I kept pushing and pushing, maybe I would someday be able to convince my mind that writing daily was something important and the words would start to flow.
Or maybe not.
As of right now, it seems like writing daily just isn’t for me. That a true, consistent writing routine that doesn’t ever change can actually do more harm for my creative mind than it can do good.
All I know for absolute certainty is that I’ve treated each of my books like a child. In some ways, I know routine and consistency is helpful. In other ways, I realize that the same method that worked for one won’t necessarily work for the other.
And the longer I’m in this creative industry, the more I’m realizing that it’s important to recognize our own patterns, yes, but also the ways we buck traditional patterns as well. Because oftentimes, those are the things that allow us to lean most heavily into our creative souls and produce the best, most honest kind of work.
Do you have a writing routine or structure? Drop a comment to tell me about it! I’m always looking for new ways to write and be creative.