As a writer, it’s really easy to get to a place where you feel you’re too busy to write. Although writers are notorious for procrastination and poor time management skills (I’m not judging—I’m a writer, too!), there is usually more to not writing than a lack of time. That something is often what could be called “the rut.”
Heading to the same place every day to try and work on the same thing is tiring. Add in doing this after a long day at the day job 99% of writers also have to hold, and it gets plain awful. With so little time and so much to do, it’s easy to get bored with your writing routine and push it aside for other things that seem more important. As a writer, this is one of the biggest pitfalls you can fall prey to. In fact, since so many writers write on their computers these days, it’s easier than ever to get distracted and let quality writing time pass you by.
Fortunately, there is a way to eliminate “the rut” and get back to writing. Set aside 30 minutes a day to write (an hour is great, but let’s be realistic here… if you’re not writing at all, then 30 minutes is a huge improvement). But don’t schedule the same 30 minutes every day. Schedule this time before work in the morning, during a long lunch break, or right when you get home from work. Whatever works for your schedule for each day. Schedules are always hard to manage, so by allowing your writing time to be as flexible as your schedule needs it to be, you are making it more and more attractive to set the time aside. The key is to sit down once a week and plan when that 30 minutes a day will happen throughout the upcoming week.
Then, instead of turning on the laptop, grab a pen and paper and head to a place that isn’t the norm for you. If you usually write in the living room, then shake it up and visit the kitchen table. If you haven’t written outside in a while and it’s a beautiful day, then head outside. You can use a notebook, a journal or even different colored paper for different days. Better yet, grab a sketchpad and really shake things up. By removing all the lines, your writing will have the opportunity to flow as creatively as you would like it. All of those wonderful pre-writing activities like Venn diagrams, story webs, and flow charts can take flight and free ideas you had no idea were even there. The computer’s blank screen and blinking cursor are the root of more writing loss than any blank piece of paper ever claimed. Step back from technology and watch those creative juices fly!
Are writers always going to hit patches where writing is harder than usual or where time just doesn’t seem to open up to sit down and write for an extended period? Sure. But by setting aside some time for writing and by writing in a way that is different from your regular process, you are more likely to try it again the next day. Keep in mind that you need to keep shaking things up—if not every day, then at least a couple of times a week. Don’t fall into a new rut. After all, that’s what helped bring you to a place where distractions were more important than the ideas in your brain screaming to get out.