Writing routines are great
What’s this episode about?
Welcome to the first season of The Pen Garden Podcast. Listen to the final episode 5 in full above and/or scan the show notes below for the main takeaways.
Routine is a word which sparks both joy and dread depending on your outlook on life. If you love having a structured day and ticking off things on your to-do list makes you feel happy and productive, then you’re already converted. Welcome to your tribe of routine lovers.
If on the other hand, you think having a routine does not fit your lifestyle because you’re spontaneous and don’t want to live by rules set by others, fair enough, but please stay till the end – maybe I’ll change your mind, particularly because I will be talking about YOU making YOUR own personal routine. For YOU, by YOU, to benefit YOUR writing process.
What is a routine?
By definition it is ‘a sequence of actions regularly followed’. Routines are super common and I bet you have many, possibly even without realizing it. Your morning coffee is a routine, reading before bed is a routine. And forming behaviors like that is normal.
Once you have done something in your daily life which has yielded positive results, it’s only in our nature for it to become an automatic response the next time you’re faced with the same problem. By following routines humans preserve physical and mental energy which can then be redistributed to other things which require more attention, like effectively dealing with new issues we encounter to which we have no established responses.
Routines add meaning to life
A study from 2018 examined if there is any correlation between routines and people’s meaning in life and found that “Living a life characterized by routines was found to be associated with higher Meaning in life. Life is not only made meaningful through extraordinary experiences but also in its daily living.”
And that, in my opinion, transcends just daily routines like maintaining good oral hygiene or connecting with your family every day over dinner. There is a definite correlation between creative work like writing and building a habit that makes you feel productive and fulfilled, leading to a more satisfactory writing practice and overall life.
Easy, quick, enjoyable
If routines are sets of behaviors that make things easy, why is it not always easy to establish and follow a routine? The basis is that routines should not require conscious effort or much thought beyond when being set.
There are many strategies to form a routine but typically, presented with a choice, people usually pick the option that is the easiest, quickest, and most enjoyable. The problem with that is, writing is hard work. While it is often enjoyable for writers, it is rarely easy and it is most certainly not quick. Watching a TV series or reading a book satisfies more of those three requirements.
When you tackle establishing a writing routine, you should consider these limitations to the human psyche. Your final routine should be something sustainable that is easy for you to regularly do, utilizes your time as effectively as possible and brings you the most joy. Or if that’s not always possible on all accounts, at least doesn’t introduce additional stress to your life. Remember, a writing routine is supposed to make your creative life easier, not add any negativity to your practice. If you’re thinking back now and think this doesn’t resonate with you, then you need to take an honest look at what you have established so far and make changes as needed.
Where does burnout come from?
And here some of you might think, I already have a routine that works for me or I’ve tried having a routine and I’m just not that kind of person. Both are fair responses but let me enact the power of science once again – research has shown that because “routines are characterized by simple repetitions, they might at times lead to a state of boredom. […] Boredom [itself] has been defined as “a restless, irritable feeling that the subject’s current activity or situation holds no appeal”.
So if a routine has stopped working for you, maybe it’s time to make some adjustments. Or even if your routine is still healthy and fulfilling, it’s worth taking a look if you can improve it to avoid going down the path of eventually facing boredom.
There is lots of inspiration around you and within you. You can continue listening to this podcast, for example, which will consistently broaden your thinking about how you can reinvent your creative practice to be more fulfilling and effective. There’s your writing friends to steal ideas from and writing gurus all over the internet.
Recently, as I was researching podcast content, I found another really interesting podcast which interviews authors specifically to get to the bottom of their creative process. It has a wide range of people who have already imparted their wisdom and is going strong. It’s called Writer’s Routine. The link is here so you can go and check it out after if you want to get some inspiration and some positivity from there too.
sO, TO SUMMARIZE…
Having a writing routine is beneficial, because it is essentially building in shortcuts into your practice, freeing up mental space for more creative work. What your ideal routine would look like will depend on your personality, your goals, your experiences and your surroundings. We’ve already covered how you can get insight into your personality and how your social bubble can affect your writing practice. If you haven’t checked out those episodes, please go do that. You’ll enjoy them, I promise.
Next week, I’m diving straight into season two – Your personality, where I will dig deep into what are the best approaches to a writing routine for the different MBTI types. Come join me by subscribing to the show on your favorite podcasting platform.
If you want to be up to date on Pen Garden news, subscribe to the show and sign up to my newsletter. I promise no spam, only cups of writing joy.
If you want to continue the conversation, you can poke me on The Pen Garden Facebook page or tweet me @laineydelaroque. Thanks very much for listening everyone. Hope you have an awesome week and speak to you soon.
- Routines and Meaning in Life (journal article)
- The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine (journal article)
- Writer’s Routine (podcast)