Creative people love to wait until inspiration strikes. The problem is that no one really knows when this whim will take hold.
You may have felt this way before, waiting for the right moment to start your book, thinking that maybe next year you will have the skill and knowledge to know what to do with this great idea you have.
Yet, you never get to it.
The only way to truly write is to get the words down on the page. You can edit and change them later. But without the words, you have nothing.
So, in an effort to write more, I've been looking at how morning routines can be used to your benefit. By doing a little something each day, you can take small steps toward a larger goal.
Routine dictates your life, from what you accomplish to how quickly. For some writers, this routine is the difference between completing three chapters in six months or three books in the same time frame. (Do you know which famous writers I'm talking about?) Distinguished authors sware by using daily habits to create a continuous well of creativity.
The point is that no matter which habits you decide to work into your morning, you can live happier, more creative, and more productive each day with the right routine.
You'll slowly work toward something bigger each day, one step at a time. Before you know it, you will finally finish your first manuscript and be on the way to learn how to edit and self-publish your novel.
Try out a few different habits, choose your favorite, or combine a few of the suggestions below to create your ultimate morning. The choice is yours! You could even try a different habit for each day of the week or give each a go in no particular order. Only you can choose your perfect morning.
Here are the nine different morning habits that will help you write more each day:
1. Head Outside to Signal Beginnings
Send your brain a signal that it's time to start writing by stepping outside and back in. Some people go for a walk around the block, others take the trash out or check the mail. Or, you could simply stand on the porch and take in the morning air over your cup of coffee before heading inside.
When you have a workplace you head to, you probably walk to the car or subway at the beginning of your day. Really, you do this because you need to get to work. But when you work from home, as many writers do, you may not have a signal like this to tell your brain it's time to switch into work mode.
Try out this tip if you have trouble telling yourself when it is time to work or struggle writing instead of playing on social media in the morning.
2. Talk to Yourself
On your next walk around town, whether you're heading to the gym, your favorite coffee shop, or the library, plug in your headphones and use a writing app to verbally dictate your next book or project while you walk.
Use the time you normally spend mindlessly walking as a writing session, and if you're worried about people overhearing your romance novel's hot and sweaty scenes while you're on the bus, you can try using this time to brainstorm instead. Mobile apps like Dragon Dictation, Evernote for Android, or Voice Assistant can convert voice to text, which is insanely helpful if you enjoy taking notes as well!
This habit can help if you have trouble finding time to write. Even if you have a day job or college classes, you can fit in a few minutes of dictating while you commute. Just make sure you walk outside because the combination of nature and exercise can give you an added boost.
3. Wake Up Mentally
Obviously, you'll wake at some point -- hopefully after you get at least seven and a half hours of sleep. But because many writers work from home, which allows you to create your own schedule, you may not typically wake up at the same time each day. Especially if you tackle a late night writing session whenever inspiration strikes.
If you can get into the routine of waking up at the same time each morning (no matter what time you choose to wake up), you can also ensure the rest and productivity you need to write daily. I don't know about you, but writing exhausts my brain. This hack helps me stay creative and allows my brain to wake up before I have to jump into writing.
When your alarm goes off, get up and try something to wake up your mind. For some, that may be reading a book or the news. Others prefer meditation or a work out to clear their minds. Some allow their minds to wander and jump right into writing with a free write exercise or by jotting down ideas or to-dos for the day.
I enjoy reading on the porch every morning, which you may already know if you follow me on Instagram. However, I leave room for spontaneity by allowing myself to break this habit once per week. This may not work for you, as some people need daily habits to succeed while others need to break routines once in a while to keep them long-term.
4. Move Your Body
Once your mind is awake, you need to wake up your body. Many writers don't consider this habit important because your mind is more vital to writing than your body's physical strength. Yet, regular exercise boosts your memory and improves your brain's thinking abilities.
Go for a morning run, practice yoga, walk the dog, or dance in the shower. Whatever you choose, just get up and move.
PS. Dancing in the shower will perk up your senses and allow you to relax. If you're still sleepy, try a cold blast at the end of your shower. Research shows this boosts happiness and energy all day long, and the cold burst is great for circulation and immunity improvement.
Try out this habit if you need more physical exercise in your day or find yourself sitting more than moving. You can also benefit from an exercise routine if you struggle with depression or health issues.
5. Tackle the Dread First
We all have one task we hate completing, so we put it off as long as possible. Then, the one small to-do grows more and more daunting, and we're less and less likely to begin tackling the task.
Instead of procrastinating, try taking care of the task your dread before anything else. Complete it first, and you'll feel lighter all day knowing it's taken care of, freeing you to focus on your writing. Studies show accomplishing a task first thing in the morning can boost your daily productivity, so why not use that boost to propel you into your day?
This tip can help if you procrastinate things you hate completing.
6. Tidy Up Your Workspace
As happiness and habits expert Gretchen Rubin says, "Outter order, inner calm." Mess and clutter have a way of getting in your mind's way.
Start out your day by cleaning up your workspace and get rid of anything on your desk that may distract you. Clear all clutter, put your phone on silent, remove the layer of dust. Only keep what you need in front of you: pen, paper, and laptop. Keep your office space tidy.
A messy desk will slow you down, giving your thoughts reason to wander or otherwise decrease your level of focus. Try this habit if you struggle to keep your workspace clean or find yourself stopping work during the middle of the day in order to straighten up the room around you.
7. Set a Daily Word Count Goal
Take a tip from NaNoWriMo -- which is said to help you write more during the month of November by setting a daily word goal of just over 1,000 words per day. You don't need to necessarily join NaNoWriMo to write daily and your daily word goal doesn't need to be perfect either. The point of both the challenge and this hack is to get in the habit of showing up and putting down the words, even if they suck.
Stephen King used a technique like this to complete his books faster. "I try to get six pages a day," King said in an interview with notoriously slow-writing George R.R. Martin.
Write first thing each day, making your word count goal your only goal each day, and you may feel more driven to beat the challenge. But the act of simply showing up each day, whether the words are terrible or groundbreaking, will help you accomplish more -- especially if you struggle to get any words down.
8. Allow Your Mind to Wander
Writers can be known to have overactive imaginations. Sometimes we have too many ideas, too much we want to do, and too many different techniques we want to try. Other times, our minds are blank.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea (Bonus tip: Double up your habits by trying an herbal tea that will also cure skin blemishes), and head to a park or library. Pick a quiet place that helps you feel inspired or creative and allow your mind to wander. Think about new projects, your next book idea, or simply people watch and imagine what they're doing, where they're heading, or what their life is like. Make up a short story surrounding them.
Try this habit if you find yourself coming up with ideas you don't feel strongly about or spend most of your writing time on projects for work reasons alone. If you're still struggling, find someone you can bounce ideas off.
9. Empty Your Brain
If you find you have too much on your mind, spend the morning writing out your thoughts. Many writers have figured out that with the well of ideas sometimes comes brain overload, and there's no reason to suffer through it and let it dictate your day.
Fill three pages with each thought that pops into your head or keep a journal where you list out three things you feel grateful for. Don't focus on grammar or writing techniques, just get the words out of your head.
This hack can be used to get ahead of your mental clutter as well if you initiate it into your routine, maybe not daily but once per week. I enjoy doubling up on the last two habits by heading to the park area of my local art museum, the Nelson-Atkins, where the yard is gorgeous and inspiration hangs out in the air. I watch people heading by, create my goals for the next week, and freely write for 15 minutes on whatever pops into my mind.
Which habit do you think will help you write more? Do you think combining a few habits to create a daily or weekly writing routine can benefit you and help you reach your writing goals?