Routine creates better stories, faster.

I used to dip into writing fiction as and when I could, between work and other responsibilities. But I wasn’t happy with how much I was getting done, because I was being lazy about it. It was taking too long to get anything finished. But with a few simple changes the past few months, I’ve become much more focussed and I’m racing toward finishing my first full-length novel. How?

Routine.

I removed distractions and left more opportunity for writing. I don’t watch TV or play videogames any more; my writing has become my nightly entertainment. By making writing a nightly routine after work, my brain kicks into fiction mode because it’s trained to expect it. And quite simply, a thousand words a night means more story, faster — and more time practicing to get better at it.

The routine builds a mind set too. If you set up a word count to complete every day, you’ve set yourself a problem to overcome. Humans are accomplished problem solvers thanks to our huge brains — so exploit it. Set yourself the enjoyable, achievable problem of overcoming a word count on your story, and ideas start to pop into your head on a daily basis.

Try this routine:

  1. A really hot shower after work. This gives your mind time to switch from work mode into fiction mode, and the ideas start.
  2. A cup of coffee at your desk. Overrule that natural urge to rest with a hearty dose of a legal, taxable drug — caffeine!
  3. Put on your favourite musique du jour and just write. What? No. Just start. Start it. Start with a rude word, whatever. Just start.

If you set yourself a routine for your writing, then ideas become a habit. When ideas become a habit, you’ll find it easier to write. And when you find it easier to write, chances are you’ll be happier with what you’re writing — and will want to write more.

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