With stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders still in varying degrees of effect, our lives continue to be suspended in uncertainty. Most people are now working from home, and many people have watched helplessly as their jobs went away. Suddenly, we find ourselves sequestered with our households while everyone is in a state of high anxiety. Mix that all together, and many writers don’t have much emotional bandwidth left for their writing projects. However, a writing routine and focusing on the stories you love can help you make the most of the emotion and energy you do have.
Make a daily routine and stick to it
Before you start pressuring yourself to write every day, you need to come up with a daily routine. Many people have avoided this, thinking their lives will return to normal in a week or month, but that hasn’t happened yet. It’s time to add some structure.
Most people who work from home have a daily routine that helps them be more productive and stay healthy. When you have set times to eat, exercise, work, play, and sleep, your body and mind get into a rhythm. You are better able to allocate your daily energy and switch from one task to the next.
If you haven’t found a daily routine that works for you, it’s time to start. If you have, make sure it’s the best one for you. Set your alarm clock and get up to write, meditate, or work out, then get started on your day. Pay attention to when you need a break or food and build those into your routine. Don’t forget to add family and virtual socialization time too.
Add creative writing to your routine
While you’re building your daily routine, look for times you can write. If you have kids at home, this might be early in the morning or after they’ve gone to bed. Pay attention to when you feel the most creative throughout the day, and see if you can devote some of that time to your writing.
If you can easily jump from one task to another, look for a handful of fifteen-minute intervals you can claim for writing sprints. If you don’t switch your focus easily, search for a thirty- to sixty-minute interval. During your allotted writing time, give yourself one rule: you either get to sit in your chair and write or stare out the window. No internet surfing. No laundry. No getting up for a drink or snack. Stare or write.
Then develop a writing routine. Think about what helps you get creative and ready to write. Do you need a five-minute meditation session to let go of other thoughts? What about a walk? Even the act of making your favorite hot beverage, like tea or coffee, can work. If you do something like this before you sit down to write, you’ll train your brain to switch from thinking about your other tasks, commitments, and worries to focusing on your writing project. That way, by the time you sit down in your writing chair, you’re ready to start putting words down.
Set writing boundaries
After you’ve established your daily and writing routines, you need to set boundaries around them. Otherwise, other people, tasks, and commitments will get in the way. Just because you’re home 24/7 doesn’t mean you’re available all day. Make sure your coworkers, spouse, kids, and roommates know when you shouldn’t be interrupted. Writing time is your special time to get to focus on a project that makes you happy. Guard that time.
You’re going to have to use all of your self-motivation and self-discipline to stick to these boundaries. They apply to you too. Do your best to avoid the trappings of the internet or social media. Also, remember to respect the boundaries of the other members of your household—just like you want them to respect yours.
Keep your writing fun
Finally, one of the most effective ways to keep writing during quarantine is to make sure you’re enjoying it. Now is not the time to force yourself to finish that chapter you’ve been struggling with or to write the character you just aren’t connecting with. Instead, write a short story featuring your favorite place or character. If you love description, focus on that. If dialogue is your jam, write that. Let writing be a joy and release, not another obligation.
If you’re feeling uninspired or distracted, try a writing prompt. Treat it like the fun exercise it’s meant to be, not something you hope to publish. A writing prompt can be a great way to start writing. Here are a nonfiction one and fiction one to get you started:
- Write the last funny story you told a friend. Do your best to bring the scene to life so you can relive that moment.
- The cat next door has become your character’s nemesis after destroying the garden. The neighbor’s house has caught on fire and the cat is trapped inside. What does your character do? Write that scene.
So to keep writing during quarantine, build a routine, set boundaries, and keep your writing fun to Ignite Your Ink.