Creatives love to wait for inspiration to strike. The problem is that no one knows when it will happen.
You've probably felt like you're waiting for the right moment before. Maybe you wait to start your book or large writing project, thinking that with time, you'll process the skills and knowledge you need.
But you never start.
The only way to tackle a big writing project is to get words down on the page. You can edit and change them later. But without the words, you have nothing.
To boost productivity in writing, I researched how a morning routine can benefit you. Morning routines help you take inspiration into your hands at a designated time each day. By doing a little every day, the small steps add up toward a larger goal.
Routine dictates your life, from what you accomplish to how quickly. For some writers, a morning 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 here? Leave a comment below.) Distinguished authors swear by the use of daily habits to create a continuous well of creativity.
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 soon be ready to learn how to edit and self-publish your novel.
Try out a few of the morning routine ideas below. Choose your favorite, or combine a few of the suggestions to create your ultimate morning. You could attempt a different habit for each day of the week or give each idea a go in no particular order. Only you can choose your perfect morning.
Here are the nine morning routine ideas for writers.
1. Head Outside to Signal New 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 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. You do so 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. Use a writing app to verbally dictate your next book or project as you walk.
There are many helpful writing apps. Sign up for a book writing app, such as Reedsy, Scrivener, Ulysses, or Storyist. Free writing apps like Dragon Dictation, Evernote for Android, or Voice Assistant convert voice to text, which is insanely helpful if you enjoy taking notes as well!
Repurpose 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, use this time to brainstorm instead.
This habit is beneficial if you have trouble finding time to write. If you have a day job or college classes, you can fit in a few minutes of dictating during your commute.
Bonus: Walk outside as you dictate. The combination of nature and exercise can boost productivity throughout your day.
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 or at odd hours, you may not typically wake up at the same time each day.
If you get into a routine of waking up at the same time each morning (no matter what time you choose to wake up), you ensure the rest and productivity you need to write daily.
I don't know about you, but writing exhausts my brain. Creativity requires fuel, so this hack allows me to stay inspired and allows my brain to wake up before I have to jump into writing.
When your alarm goes off, get up, and try to wake your mind. For some, that may be reading a book or the news. Others prefer meditation or a morning workout routine to clear their minds. Some allow their minds to wander and jump right into writing with a free write exercise, journaling, or by jotting down a list of ideas or to-dos.
I enjoy reading outside every morning, which you may already know if you follow me on Instagram. However, I leave room for spontaneity by allowing myself to break my habit once per week. This may not work for you. Some people need daily habits to succeed, while others need to break routines once in a while to keep them long-term. Figure out what's best for you, and don't be afraid to wiggle things around.
4. Move Your Body
After your mind is awake, it's time to wake up the body. Many writers don't consider a morning workout routine, maybe because your mind is more vital to writing than your body's physical strength.
Yet, regular exercise boosts memory and improves your brain's thinking abilities. Many people consider exercising a productivity enhancer too.
Go for a morning run, practice yoga, walk the dog, or dance in the shower. The choice is yours! Just get up and move.
P.S. Dancing in the shower perks up the senses and allows 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, and the cold burst is excellent for circulation and immunity improvement.
Sedentary lifestyles are the new cancer. Exercise morning habits are best if you need more physical exercise in your day or find yourself sitting more than moving. You'll 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 procrastinate as long as possible. Then, the small to-do grows more and more daunting, and we're less and less likely to begin tackling it.
Instead of putting off dreaded tasks, try taking care of them before anything else. Complete the dread first. 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 boosts your daily productivity, so why not use that to propel you into your day?
This tip can help if you procrastinate on 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 your day by cleaning up your workspace. 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 slows you down, giving your thoughts reason to wander or otherwise decrease your level of focus. Use this routine idea if you struggle to keep your workspace clean or find yourself stopping work during the middle of the day to straighten up the room.
7. Set a Daily Word Count Goal
Take a tip from NaNoWriMo, where you write a book during 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 daily, even if they suck.
Stephen King uses a similar technique to complete his books faster. "I try to get six pages a day," King said in an interview.
Write first thing each day. Make your word count goal your first goal each day, and you may feel more driven to beat the challenge. Simply showing up each day, whether the words are terrible or groundbreaking, helps you accomplish more.
A writing routine in the morning is ideal, especially if you struggle to get words down regularly.
8. Allow Your Mind to Wander
Writers are 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. 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 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.
Writing habits like these a great 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 alone. If you're still struggling, find another writer or mentor to bounce ideas.
9. Empty Your Brain
If you find you have too much on your mind, spend the morning writing down your thoughts. With a well of ideas comes brain overload. There's no reason to suffer through or let it dictate your day.
Fill three pages with each thought that pops into your head, or keep a journal where you list 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 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 my local park, where the landscape is gorgeous, and inspiration hangs in the air. I watch people, create my goals for the next week, and free-write for 15 minutes on whatever pops into my mind.
What Morning Routine Works Best for You?
What works for one writer doesn't work for all.
Which morning routine helps you write more? Do you think combining a few morning habits can benefit you and help you reach your writing goals faster?