Writing Routines for the Part-Time Writer (Or, How I Found the Part-Time Writer’s Unicorn)

Hey, remember when I did those three writing experiments to see what worked best for me? And remember how I never really did the third one? That’s because I did actually do the third one and goal-oriented works much better for me. Now I just need to work on actually writing something every day and my writing routine!

But, how do I make a writing routine? Is “make” even the right word? What about “create” or “craft” or “fabricate” or, I don’t know, “mold out of the clay that structures my life”?

It seems like every successful author has a writing routine but it’s hard to find articles or blog posts about people with full-time jobs that find time for a whole writing routine. Part-time writers are constantly seeking this unicorn of the writing process–a routine that is beautiful, powerful, and probably mythical (probably).

Last-Unicorn-Review-060915
The Red Bull here is Facebook and all my other distractions

I mean, come on, do you even know what a routine is? It’s a course of procedure, done repeatedly and regularly, and is a basis for forming a habit.

Basically, it’s something that eats into your precious, very limited writing time.

On the other hand, it’s also something that, if you really do have one, helps you focus. An effective writing routine can drop you in the zone without wading in slowly and relying on music or starting with the scene you really want to write instead of the in-between scenes you need to write. It also helps you avoid temptations like Facebook, Netflix, and adorable puppies begging to play with you.

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Not that this has ever happened to me…

So what does it take for a part-time writer to find a working routine?

Time: A lot of people recommend writing in little blocks of time (15 minutes to an hour) and lunch break writing is a very popular concept. I find I am very unhappy if I don’t have more than 30 minutes to sink my teeth into whatever I’m writing at the time. So, I did what many do and decided to get up a little earlier–especially since morning is the best time for me to write, creatively.

Dedication: If you’re going to make a routine out of anything, you have to be committed to the cause, but you also having to be willing to forgive yourself for the occasional mistake, missed writing session/day, or not meeting your word count.

Special flavoring: What does it really take to create a writing routine when you can only write part-time? It only takes you! You are an imaginative, creative, innovative person and how you design your routine will be wholly unique to you–as every writing routine has been before yours.

It’s good to take inspiration for others but, ultimately, how you get yourself in the zone to be productive either in outlining, editing, drafting, or just thinking about your story is going to be your own method. And that method might not be the same every day–and that is fine.

Isn’t it weird how your preferences can change? Sometimes all I want is to go to Jobot and sit outside with a large iced tea and write for three hours. Other times, I need to put my headphones in and blast Evanescence or Fallout Boy because I’ve got a tense action scene to write and those are my go-to artists for that sort of thing.

Maybe your writing routine shouldn’t be location-based, either, or dependent on the day of the week or where you are in your story. Maybe you just need time, the will, and the heart to do it.

Here are some of the sources I used to find examples for how others have constructed their writing routines:

http://writers.stackexchange.com/questions/17168/time-management-for-part-time-writing

Confessions of a (part-time) writer

Learn from the Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers

As for my writing routine, I’m still working on it. All I know is that I sit down somewhere with a nice cup of tea–sometimes hot and sometimes iced–using a special cup I received as a gift for my birthday. That’s when I know it’s time to write.

Maybe that’s all I need. Maybe one simple thing is all we need.

Author: V. Kane

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is ANATHEMA, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @ValkyrieWriting or Instagram at books_and_dogs

3 thoughts

  1. I also hate having less than 30min to get writing in, despite being part of 10 Minute Novelists. 🙂 Getting up early is not my favorite, but I’ve been using my breaks between classes to schedule in a block of writing time. e.g., today from 11-11:30 was time when I put the butt in the chair and got it done, and it will be the same on Wed, with 2-2:30 p.m. on Tues/Thurs. I think routine really makes all the difference for certain personalities.

    Liked by 1 person

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