Writers: Have You Considered Shaking Up Your Work and Writing Routine?

1224529_hourglassThis post is for writers and bloggers, especially those who are, like me, in a slump of sorts.

I have decided I need to shake up my work and writing routine considerably. This is a result of an unproductive and frustrating week last week: apparently, judging by the blogs I follow, it seems like some horrible virus was floating through the WordPress ether.

Anyways, my general mode of attack has been to handle job hunting in the morning and to write a blog post and work on my writer’s handbook in the afternoon.

The problem: I am a morning person. My creativity, energy, and drive peak in the morning and lately have been nonexistent after lunch. It’s a problem.

I always used to write in the mornings, first thing. When I had to teach in the mornings and be at work, I got up early and wrote before work. That system was great for me.

Now, I feel like I need to give job hunting a priority. I feel guilty if I don’t make a point of getting to it right away and for a relatively substantial amount of time each and every morning.

You’ve got to consider what tasks are best suited for you at what times.

Sure, not all of us are lounging around all day like me, doing all their work from home. Most people have jobs with set hours to go to. (I’m hoping to be in that number soon and very soon!)

But those days you don’t have a job to physically go to–say, on the weekend–I think we all can benefit from thinking about when we’re best suited to do which tasks.

Writing and editing–whether you’re crafting a blog post, writing fiction, or editing an extensive work of nonfiction–are mentally exhausting. I’m best suited for that kind of work before noon.

Putting my creative ventures off until after I eat lunch has been absolutely murdering my productivity.

The morning is my friend. Also coffee. Coffee is very kind to me.

The morning is my friend. Also coffee. Coffee is very kind to me.

In contrast, going through pages on indeed.com, filling out applications, and putting a new spin on a cover letter by adding material of specific interest to that corporation and that position’s responsibilities–basically, all your job hunting related activities–are relatively rote and mechanical.

I’ve realized there’s nothing wrong with job hunting in the afternoon and going back to putting the focus on my creative ventures in the morning. There’s no reason to feel guilty for not getting around to job hunting first, if I’m still getting around to it.

In fact, I’m hoping this shake-up of what’s become my new routine will help me feel more positive, more energetic, and more successful overall. If all goes well, I’ll be making great use of mornings as well as afternoons.

My challenge

I wrote this post because I want to challenge everyone to evaluate their routines and where writing and work fit in, especially those who, like me, feel they haven’t been as productive lately as they could be.

  • In what ways might your routine be working against you?
  • Has your routine started to annoy and frustrate you? Does it make you feel cramped and chained, rather than liberated to make the best use of your time and abilities?
  • Are you making full use (if you can, given job and family responsibilities) of your peak time of productivity, whether you’re an early bird or a night owl?

A routine should be something that aids and supports you, not something that becomes your enemy.

The problem is that we humans, as creatures of routine, can sometimes accept our routine as a given even when it’s not helping us. Sometimes, we need to force a change and move things around. A routine is NEVER set in stone.

You can always tweak it and even give it a major overhaul. After all, routines should be about mechanizing what works best for you, so you don’t waste time deciding what to do next.

Have you ever had to change a routine? Do you feel that routines, in general, are helpful and conducive to productivity?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this one about making the most of your writing time and this one about creating a social media calendar.

Don’t forget either, if you’d like to keep up with the blog here, you can sign up to follow by email at the top right of the page.


43 responses to “Writers: Have You Considered Shaking Up Your Work and Writing Routine?

  1. I’m on that changed routine now. It’s called teacher summer break. Turns out I had more and better blog posts when I was working. 🙂 I also know that most blogs die a small little death in the summer… my stats always go way down… so maybe our slumps just have good timing.

    • maybe so! eek! i always tend to be more productive in the summer usually. it’s the bout of joblessness that’s mentally interfering, I think, in my case. but I can understand why summer is a distraction for people. when you have free time there’s no sense of urgency to get stuff done.

  2. Unfortunately my peak creative time seems to hit while I’m at work. *sigh* So I scramble to write on breaks and then force myself to work in the evenings as well. Not always very productive but no way to change that at the moment.

    • I have a feeling that’ll be me once I find work :-(. I’m trying to accept it because, well, I need a job, period. Sometimes we just have to do the best with what we have. work is work… 😦 hope you at least are feeling great about what you’re writing when you’re able to get down to it!

  3. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you earn your living? Because that is what is making it so difficult for me – I can’t change my routine because I am obliged to be at work at a certain time until a certain time. I am a morning person, too, but I also have to leave for work at 7:45 am, 6 days a week. I am thinking about getting up a little earlier (6 am) to get half an hour of writing in, but to be honest I’m not THAT early of a morning person. I get home around 6 pm, so after that I still need to do my job hunting. It leaves me with no writing time at all. Result: I haven’t really written anything for nearly 2 months. Solution: an end to this blasted economic crisis!

    Oh, and I can’t write during breaks at work, because I don’t get any breaks at work, sadly.

    • I don’t mind you asking at all. I was a graduate student fellow, so my tuition was paid because I taught Spanish courses for my university. I have my Masters but withdrew before I got my PhD because I realized the life of a professor these days is not a life I want to live. So I’m looking for work at the moment. Have a couple of freelance projects on the side (translation)

    • I can definitely see why it’s tough! having a full time job AND job hunting doesn’t leave much time for writing, for sure. Maybe write what you can while you eat lunch? This blasted economy…. UGH!

      I have had multiple jobs I’ve applied for been taken off the market after I applied.

  4. I was in a slump all last week as well, normally I write best late at night and super early in the morning, I have been trying to write at different times to hold more regular hours, but that is just not working for me, so looks like I am going back to being my creative night owl self 🙂

    • Experimenting with stuff like that is always a good idea. Now you know for sure you need to write at night and you don’t have to wonder if you’re doing things right. 🙂 I’ve never really had success writing at night . I’m the total opposite. Have always been an early bird.

  5. Hi Victoria, great post! I’m in the process of tweaking my writing process at the moment. I have a tendency to throw myself into projects, do loads of work at once and then cause myself a health setback. So at the moment I’m working on writing four days a week on the train on the way to work. I’m trying giving myself different days off to see how it works. My writing is going really well at the moment so holding myself back from it is a struggle, but I know from experience it will help me keep going in the long term.
    I also find I work better in the morning, and between 3pm and 5pm I’m worse than useless! I think routines are helpful but you also have to be flexible when it becomes clear the routine isn’t working!

    • fantastic point: you’ve got to know when to make a change. kudos to you for taking charge and putting health first. That’s one of the things more important than the creativity 🙂

  6. My routine is getting decimated this week. The toddler is home from school until Monday and I’ve been told that I’ll get no help. So, blogging and writing will have to be pushed to the night, which means I might be getting less sleep. Then there’s this dastardly heatwave. So, I actually miss my routine and wish I could keep clinging to it.

  7. You really got me thinking, thank you. I’m a full time worker so it is quite difficult to write. I write better at night and I mean late at night, like from 12am. Unfortunately because I start work at 7am, I can’t afford to stay up too late. I am going to think and see if I can change my routine somewhat. It’s important to reevaluate it. 🙂

  8. I’ve always considered myself to be an Early Bird, but since coming to University it’s really unusual for me to get up before 9am and I find myself being inspired to write at 10pm. I just go with it, which means I end up not going to bed until 2am, and I end up really tired and cranky. 0_o

    • yikes!!! I could probably count the times I’ve stayed up until 2 am on both hands. It doesn’t happen much 🙂

      the times I did, though, I was at university (with few exceptions). you’ll get things worked out! make sure you do get enough sleep. that’s important. I’m the crankiest person in the WORLD when I haven’t slept well.

  9. I employ one very simple technique to keep me fresh – changing writing location. I’ll spend a few weeks at my desk, then move to the couch for a few weeks, then to the bed, then back to the desk. I find that after a few weeks in one location, I have a harder time writing, and what I do produce is kind of stale. Moving to the other side of the room works wonders!

    • that’s a fantastic tip, Eric, thanks!!! I move between the couch, desk, bed, and also cafes, but more from day to day than from week to week. I should probably cut the cafe out until I find a job, but…. I need people around sometimes. I can’t live as a hermit.

      Anyway, that really is a fantastic point, and one I never would have thought to mention. A new location charges us up and attunes us to the situation around us, which can really help creativity, which often is wrought from change and new experiences.

  10. I’m playing catch-up in my blog reading, so I’ll probably comment on more than one post today. Anyway, this hits me squarely where I live, so I have to think we’re twins separated at birth. When it comes to my fiction writing, I have the eat-your-vegetables before-you-get-dessert mentality. I feel pressured about the job search and freelance projects so I tell myself to do both first thing, and then reward myself by working on my fiction afterward. But other tasks wind up in the way (like cleaning). So I don’t get to the fiction at all. And I wind up cranky.

    So, I’m going back to the old schedule. When I worked in an office and was a grad student, I woke up early to write before going to work. I felt much more productive.

    • oh my gosh, we really are twins separated at birth, haha!!! The exact same approach to the exact same situation! Craziness!!!

      Thanks for commenting. And best of luck to us both. We can find jobs AND get to writing in the meantime!

  11. Found you on G+ and glad I did. I need a shakeup myself, as writing is getting pushed back into later in the day or never never land. Thanks!

  12. Reblogged this on jbcultureshock and commented:
    Whether you are a writer, blogger, or have some other venture going on, this is a nice post about setting a routine and changing it when it doesn’t work for you anymore.

  13. I wish I could say I had a routine because I think it really would help me write consistently and therefore faster!

    • Routines can be really helpful. Unfortunately, there aren’t possible for everyone given varying life situations and job situations and family obligations. Things come up. Some people have really hectic or varied schedules. 😦

  14. This is really good advice. I try to spend one day every week responding to blogs that I enjoy (today happens to be the day). I spend one one day on doing something new, like joining a social network, or doing a literary submission in a genre that I’ve never tried before. My ordinary days are broken up into pieces: entering a contest here and there, creative writing, blog building, or doing a little “publicity” activity. Yes, I actually have a menu of things to attend to when my “multi-tasking” makes thinking too difficult!

  15. Pingback: Writers: Have You Considered Shaking Up Your Work and Writing Routine? | Tales From The Fifth Tower

  16. I recently changed departments at work and therefore also changed my days off. So I’m hoping all these changes it will help me utilize my days off to get some writing done. And, like you, I prefer to write in the morning especially before the rest of the household gets out of bed.

  17. I’m not a morning person, unless you count staying up until 3 AM as being a morning person. Sometimes I’m up until 5 or even later. I’ve thought about changing that routine so many times, but I have to take sleeping aids if I want to go to sleep on a consistent basis before midnight or even 1 AM. If I take sleeping aids, I’m so out of it in the morning, I’m not fit for anything. So I get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night most nights during the week and sometimes make up for it on the weekend.

    As for when I work and when I write, my full-time paying job comes before my writing. If I didn’t have the full-time paying job, I would be spending pretty much all my time devoted to getting one. I’ve been out of work before, and it was impossible for me to write during that time due to the stress I felt.

    When I have a full-time paying job, like now, then I write at night, when I’m awake and it feels like no one else in the world is. There are no phones ringing, no mowers outside the window, no work emails demanding my attention.

    I have a number of creative projects going at once. I don’t have a set schedule for which ones I work on when. If one of them hasn’t been worked on for a while, it moves up in priority, but if ideas are popping about my novel, I work on it.

    • that makes sense! I hear you on the stress of job hunting. it’s kind of the worst. Good thing it’s only temporary! I’m really hoping to find something soon…. we will see 🙂

      I’ve heard other people say they have a body clock like yours, and mine is so, so completely opposite I can’t even fathom it. I can probably name every occasion I’ve stayed up until 3 am in my life 🙂

  18. When I actually get a routine, I’ll let you know 🙂 Right now, it seems like all my blogging is done opportunistically. But I need a schedule … I really really do!

    • Schedules can be helpful for some people! I need to get more organized, actually, where my blog is concerned, too. I just wing it at some point of the day, every day.

      It seems to be working, but organizing might make things easier for me. We shall see!!!

  19. Following a routine is good because you can make sure that what you want to get done is done… unless you feel that you are being unproductive and that the timing is not right. When you feel that something is not right, go ahead and make the change and see what works for you.

  20. angel7090695001

    I changed my routine and my writing is soaring now.

  21. Pingback: WRITERS: The Big Benefits of Jumping to Another Section When Editing Gets Tough | Creative Writing with the Crimson League

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s