Writing Exercise #2: Routine


This is part of a series of exercises aimed to improve specific aspects of your writing.

This exercise is about helping you create a writing routine.

For new writers, beginning is often the hardest part, but before you can start, you have to prepare. Being a writer is about sacrifice, not just from you, but from your friends and family. To succeed as a writer, you will need their help.

That means explaining how important this is to your friends so they don’t always guilt you into going out for drinks. It means asking your spouse to bathe the kids or prepare lunches a couple of times per week so you can write. When you create a routine, then not only will you know Tuesday evening is writing time, but your loved ones will know, and they will be better able to support you.

The exercise:

Write 2000 words in 2 weeks.

That may sound crazy if you’re used to character limitations of Twitter and text, and the longest thing you’ve written was the coworker coffee order. 2000 words can look daunting, but you can do it.

Here’s how:

Break this up into multiple writing sessions, with word count goals for each session. A tiered approach will help as you gain momentum, with progressively larger word count goals. For example, you write 50 words in your first session, 75 in your next, etc. Plan out these writing times and goals prior to beginning.

DO NOT EDIT anything you write. When you sit down for your writing session, you can read what you wrote before only to get you back into the story, but don’t change anything. Don’t delete, correct spelling, transpose, or even add a period. Write forward every session.

Stop writing when you’ve reached your word count goal. This may sound stupid. If in your second session, when your fingers are on fire and your brain is electrified, you might be able to reach 2000 words or beyond, but don’t. This exercise is about creating a routine. If you write to the point of exhaustion, you may not want to write on your next session. What’s worse, you may feel you deserve a break as a reward for your writing bonanza, and a whole week goes by until you sit down to write again. That’s how you break a habit, not make one.

A few other notes:

I’m advising my writing group to choose a different subject for this exercise than the novel of their focus. You need to be able to write raw first draft material and not worry about perfection, and your passion for the novel you dream of writing may keep you from free flowing and creating a good writing routine.

I also advise the 2000 word story contains dialogue, an inciting event or drama, and not just intro and/or exposition. This does not need to be a complete story, but it certainly can be. Just keep writing forward. If you reach 2000 words and want to keep moving with your story, then it seems that not only have you created a successful routine, but you’re well on your way to writing a complete novel.

Follow the rules for this exercise and by the end of the two weeks you will see that your sessions are easier to settle into and you are reaching your word count goals with relative ease.

All the best to you. Happy writing. Come back for more exercises, and please Subscribe and follow.


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