Writing Routine: 7 Tips That Work + Examples From Famous Authors

Posted on Jul 19, 2024

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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 book.

And that means forming a writing routine 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.

Well, all this came true and more after I published my first book.

Creating a Writing Routine is Simple

I’m here to tell you that making a successful writing routine 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 all of this

  • Being the wife of a very busy American man who works long hours, including weekends and evenings
  • Being the mom of three children under the age of 8 who are with me ALL THE TIME. (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
  • Doing 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 a writing routine. 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, writing a book is smooth sailing (and self-editing) from there.

But in order to build a writing routine 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.

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7 Tips For Building a Successful Writing Routine

Follow these tips and you will have your writing routine set up in no time.

1. Be intentional with your time

One thing that revolutionized my thoughts around time management was a book I read called 168 Hours: You have more time than you think by Laura Vanderkam.

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 days 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:

  • Scrolling through our phone in the morning
  • Getting ready for the day (shower, brushing teeth, etc.)
  • Making/eating meals
  • Working through meaningless/non-priority tasks
  • Talking to others in person, on the phone, or online
  • Watching TV
  • (or worse) Looking for a show to watch

These are everyday occurrences that you’re probably spending far too much time on. Keeping a log will help you pinpoint where you can speed up or cut out unnecessary tasks to make more time for your writing routine.

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 when forming my writing routine.

One great way to cut down on time spend on your phone, at least, is to use an app or software like Freedom.

Writing Routine Freedom

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 routine 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 neither, 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.

PS: Interested in some inspirational quotes to finish your project? Check out TheStrive’s 100 Self-Discipline Quotes to Help You Achieve Success

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. Switch your phone to airplane mode and turn 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 routine in daily and it will pop up on your computer or phone to help remind you to get some writing done like in this example:

Writing Routine Schedule

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 in your writing routine.

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 to stick to your writing routine when necessary. Even better, 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”!

Writing Habit

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 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 my writing routine is 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 you 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.

Of course, my early morning writing routine may not be what works best for you, so let’s take a look at some examples of writing habits to give you inspiration for your own routine.

Examples of Writing Routines From Famous Authors

Here are some examples of famous authors and their writing routines:

Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway was known for his disciplined writing routine. He wrote every morning, starting at dawn, aiming for 500 words a day. He preferred to write standing up, and often wrote in pencil on yellow legal pads.

Stephen King: King is also known for his consistency in writing. He sets a daily goal of writing 2,000 words and sticks to a routine of writing every day, including holidays. He prefers to write in the morning and tries to finish his writing by around noon.

Haruki Murakami: Murakami has a very strict and structured routine. He wakes up at 4:00 am and writes for 5 to 6 hours straight. He is very disciplined about his writing schedule, often comparing it to training for a marathon.

Maya Angelou: Angelou had a unique writing routine. She rented a hotel room to write in solitude. She would arrive in the morning, around 6:30 or 7:00 am, and write until the early afternoon. She would bring a bottle of sherry, some legal pads, and a dictionary.

J.K. Rowling: Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series while she was a single mother on welfare. She would write in cafes with her daughter sleeping beside her. She didn’t have a fixed schedule but would write whenever she could, often during her daughter’s nap times.

Mark Twain: Twain had a more relaxed routine compared to some other authors. He would often wake up around 8:00 or 9:00 am, have a hearty breakfast, and then write until late afternoon or early evening. He preferred to write in bed or in the study of his house.

As you can see, every author has slightly different writing habits, so you just need to find what works for your and STICK TO IT.

Get Out There and Write Your Book

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 with 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!

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Writing Routine FAQ

How do I create a good writing routine?

Creating a good writing routine involves being intentional with your time, creating a time log, prioritizing your tasks, deciding on the best time for writing, and finding accountability. Consistency and commitment are key.

How do writers structure their day?

Writers often structure their day around dedicated writing sessions, typically in the morning or late at night to avoid interruptions. They may also include time for reading, research, and other creative activities, balancing productivity with breaks.

How do I start good writing habits?

Start writing habits by setting clear goals, creating a dedicated writing space, scheduling regular writing time, and sticking to it. Use tools like planners or apps to track your progress and make writing a non-negotiable part of your day.

What is Stephen King’s writing routine?

Stephen King writes every day, including holidays, aiming for a daily goal of 2,000 words. He usually writes in the morning and finishes by noon, maintaining consistency and discipline in his writing routine.

What was Hemingway’s writing routine?

Ernest Hemingway wrote every morning, starting at dawn, and aimed to write 500 words a day. He preferred writing standing up, often using pencil and yellow legal pads.

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