Writing routines aren’t easy to come by…in fact, it’s one of the hardest parts of writing a book.
That’s right. It’s not coming up with a great book idea, it’s not forming the right words to bring that idea to life…
It’s finishing the damn book.
And that means forming a writing habit that will help you get it done despite your busy life and schedule. That’s why we’ve enlisted the help from Julie-Anne England, an author and busy mom of 4.
For many years I dreamed of being an author. I love to write and there was something about the sound of “author” that made me desperately want to call myself that.
I pictured my brand new life; holding my very own book in my hand, getting emails from people about how my book changed their life and my world opening up as a professional once I saw my name in print.
Well, all this came true and more after I published my first book.
This is how a writing habit through developing a writing routine helps you finish your book:
I’m here to tell you that it all comes down to creating a habit to make the time to actually write. You can daydream about your name in lights, write pages of goals and tasks and even design your perfect book cover but until you actually write…. you have nothing.
If I can form a writing routine while also managing allof this..
being the wife of a very busy (and very gorgeous) American man who works long hours, including weekends and evenings,
mom of three children under the age of 8 who are with me. All.The.Time. (Yes I say that fondly – mostly)
homeschooling my children
running 2, soon to be 3 blogs
training for a marathon
bringing my kids to swimming lessons
running bible study once a month
all the fun stuff that comes with running a home—cooking, cleaning, shopping
…so can you.
Trust me, I understand busy!
I say all this to say, it isn’t an excuse for never becoming an author. It all depends on how badly you want it.
And I bet you want it, right? How much? The truth is, it isn’t as hard as you think.
How to Build a Writing Routine and Stick to it
Here are my best tips for creating the habit of writing. These tips will have your very first book in your hands in a few months time (if you stick to them).
Before moving on, though, it’s important to understand WHY you’re building a writing routine.
You want to finish your draft as quickly as possible. After all, this is the single most difficult part for the large majority of writers.
Once your draft is done, it’s smooth sailing (and self-editing) from there.
But in order to build a writing habit that falls in line with getting your book done and accomplishing your writing goals, you need to know the word count you’re shooting for.
Once you have that, you can reverse engineer your writing habit to ensure you’re instilling a routine that gets your book done.
Here’s a calculator to help you figure this out:
Choose your book type, genre, and audience for a word count and page number total.
Your book will have
*These results are based on industry standards. The total word and page count will vary from book to book and is dependent on your writing and overall book formatting*
This book went into depth about how much time we actually spend doing daily tasks such as working, sleeping and watching TV by analyzing people’s day using a time log.
One key takeaway is that people often underestimated how much they slept by a few hours and overestimated how much time they spent working.
When it came to writing my very first book, I realized that I needed to be very intentional with my time and how I was using it.
#2 – Create a time log
After reading 168 Hours, I took a hard look at how I could utilize what I’d learned from Laura Vanderkam.
I followed suit and created a time log of what I was doing for a couple of weeks and I realized something crucial.
I really did need a better handle on what I was doing with my time. Maybe you do too.
Start by jotting down what you are doing every day for a week in 15 minutes segments. Be honest. No one has to see this except you.
Then start looking for areas where you could create more time for creating the life you want, ie. as a writer!
We often spend a lot more time than we think on mundane tasks like this:
Scrolling through our phone in the morning
Getting ready for the day (shower, brushing teeth, etc.)
Working through meaningless/non-priority tasks
Talking to others in person, on the phone, or online
(or worse) Looking for a show to watch
These are everyday occurrences that you’re probably spending far too much time on than you think. Keeping a log will help you pinpoint where you can speed up or cut out unnecessary tasks to make more time for writing.
#3 Prioritize your time
Take a look at your life and work out any free time that you could dedicate to writing.
Yeah sure, you are really busy, but I bet that you wouldn’t miss much if you cut out that second TV show you watch every night. Or maybe spent a little less time on social media.
Your time log will probably make it very clear which areas you could adjust.
I honestly struggled to find time in my day to write. Even if there was a point that my kids were playing happily in the playroom, it was never a good writing time because with kids you get interrupted. Constantly.
Even with removing time spent on social media and watching less TV, it still didn’t allow for uninterrupted writing time. So I had to be more creative.
As seen in the example above, this app can help you solidify a writing routine by actually blocking your access to certain apps or websites in order to prevent you from going to them out of a bad habit.
#4 – Decide on your perfect daily writing time
This may be as little as half an hour, but it needs to be every day (or at least 6 days a week).
This is because creating a writing habit is so important in becoming a writer.
Habits are things that almost happen on autopilot and that is exactly what you want. Cultivating a lifestyle and a habit of writing will make the writing go so much smoother than if you write here and there when you can fit it in.
Here are a few things to think about when choosing your writing time:
Will you be interrupted?
Are there too many distractions happening during that time?
Can you be in a quiet, secluded space?
Will you be in the right mindset to write during that time?
I usually had a couple of hours at night once the kids were in bed but I found that I was too tired by this time and my writing wasn’t very good.
I had to get super disciplined, so I chose to get up earlier to have uninterrupted time to write before the kids got up.
You aren’t a morning person? Yeah, me either but sometimes you have to do the hard things to see the best things come into your life. Right now, it’s just after 5am and the house is peaceful and quiet.
This is now my sacred productivity time.
#5 – Put your writing time into your daily planner
No excuses! Use an alarm if you have to and make sure you will not get interrupted. Turn your phone on airplane mode and switch off your email pop-ups.
Or use the Freedom app like I mentioned earlier.
Then show up. Every time.
If you don’t make this a priority, I can guarantee something else will take the spot. And you will find yourself a year down the track still without your book…
If you’re someone who works by an online calendar, even better! You can schedule your writing time daily and it will pop up on your computer or phone to help remind you to get some writing done like in this example:
#6 – Find accountability
The novel writing journey can be hard and lonely and there are many times where you may feel like giving up. This is when it is so important to have an accountability person ready to support you.
Your accountability buddy will be aware of your goals and will keep you on track to accomplishing your daily and weekly tasks.
This is what you can expect from an accountability buddy:
They know and understand your goals
They want to see you succeed
They aren’t afraid to be real with you and tell you when you need to get it together
They will encourage you in ways that work for you
They will meet with you regularly to check-in and help solve problems
Choose someone who you know will be supportive in your journey and who will push you when necessary. Even better if you can have someone who has written and even published a book themselves.
When I was writing my first book, my accountability buddy was amazing.
She checked up on me regularly to find out if I had accomplished what I said I would and encouraged me to keep going. She pushed me when I didn’t feel like sticking to my plan.
Don’t skip this step, it is so important! Add it to your to-do-list for today “Get accountability buddy”!
And if you’re not sure where to find an accountability partner, Self-Publishing School has a Mastermind Community filled with writers in the very same stage as you in addition to experts to help you along the way, as you can see from the example above.
#7 – Start writing!
When I first started getting up at 5am, I dreaded it. Like I said, I’m not (or actually wasn’t) a morning person.
Now I actually get excited about having a couple of hours of time all to myself. This is when I work on my goals and become the person I want to be.
Now it’s a habit and in less than 6 months I have written a book, gone through editing and formatting, launched, watched my book take #1 spot on Amazon in the self-help category AND am busy with book number two!
Your dream life really isn’t as far away as your think. When you make the decision to take control and you turn up day in and day out, that’s when the miracles will occur.
Don’t waste your life with excuses no matter how valid they might be.
Being an author is one of the best things I ever did (and I’ve been to Disneyland!). It showed me that I could do something I set my mind to. It taught me that I could overcome obstacles.
It ingrained the importance of creating a new habit and sticking to it. And now I have a legacy to leave my children.
You can do it too! You have something powerful and exciting inside you that needs to get on paper. Share your story with the world. And when you take this first step, you will never look back!