How I Changed My Routine to Write More

Carin Marais
Aug 22 · 5 min read
Image by Samantha Hurley, Burst

Most days, I write before work, during lunch, and also after work. This is mostly my personal writing, though — fiction, blog posts, and articles.

It’s a lot more difficult to do this than I make it sound, though, and there are some specific changes which I have made to my routine to be able to do this.

My personal situation

First off, I need to tell you about my personal situation, as this greatly influences how I work and how much I work.

I am single without children and, though you may roll your eyes and think that I then have all the time in the world possible, there are other things to keep in mind.

My health isn’t all that good chronic disease-wise. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder, Meniere’s Disease and possibly Fibromyalgia (basically diagnosed, although I still need to have more tests done). So there’s that. And it’s amazing how much time being ill can take up.

Making changes for the positive, however, was not as difficult as I had first imagined it would be.

Routine is your friend

The first change I made day-to-day, was to actually put together a daily routine. This means that I get up at the same time each day, even over weekends (although deadline week at work usually has me sleeping in on that weekend).

I get up at 4:30 am — mostly because that’s when my brain wakes up and I’m not a night owl. Because I only start work at 8 am, that means that I have time to do some writing before work.

Why getting up early works for me

By getting up earlier than I actually need to to make it to the office by 8 am, I am also in the position where I’m able to leave home earlier and miss most of the traffic on the way to work.

I usually try and get to work by 6:30 am — which gives me an hour to write after getting coffee, quickly checking some emails to make sure that there’s no crisis brewing, and taking a bit of time to just breathe.

Because I usually work on fiction of some kind during this time, my brain is ready to start working on non-fiction during work hours.

I also find it easier to start doing creative work during work hours after working on fiction; as if that is just what my brain needs to start functioning properly.

Starting at 8 am means that I also get to go home with the “early shift”, and I get to be home by 5 pm.

Writing during lunchtime

My writing during lunchtime usually consists of blog posts or similar writing. I don’t write every lunch hour though, and will sometimes catch up on social media and reading or knit and crochet as the fancy takes me.

Writing after work, or, yes you are allowed to rest first

Getting home relatively early means that I still have an hour or so of writing left before bedtime even when I factor in dinner and resting a bit.

If I am exhausted, though, I don’t force myself to write as I know that I will just use up the next day’s spoons.

Your routine is not set in stone

It’s important to remember that your routine is not set in stone and that you are allowed to go without it on days when it just won’t practically work.

Of course, keeping to a routine is good for my mental health as well, while breaking it can help a lot on “bad pain days”.

No binge-watching

Possibly the biggest change that I made to my routine is to watch less TV and not binge watch anything. The trap of “just one episode” usually left me for days not actually working on my writing.

I also actually find more pleasure in not binge-watching shows as I get to keep that sense of excitement of waiting for a next episode to see what happens.

Being a lot more mindful of the media I consume

Less time spent watching TV also led to me focusing on the media that I was consuming and whether that contributed anything to my day overall.

Limit consuming social media mindlessly

Although social media is a wonderful way to stay in touch with the writing community, not to mention your fans, it’s imperative that you limit consuming social media mindlessly and using it as an excuse not to write.

By limiting my social media use (and not just scrolling… and scrolling… and scrolling some more) I’ve also opened up a lot of time that I was basically mindlessly scrolling through my feeds.

Podcasts

Although I don’t watch that much TV anymore, I do listen to a lot of podcasts that I not only find interesting, but that can also serve as story fodder.

Hobbies are a definite must-have

Although writing can be a hobby, it is my full-time work (I’m a copywriter and translator) and so I need other ways of relaxing and shutting my brain off.

My hobbies include reading, knitting, crochet, embroidery, and papercraft. All of these gives my mind time to rest and get away from writing for a bit (although I must admit, I do sometimes “mindplot” while doing all the different crafts.

Whatever your hobby, make sure that it lets you escape a bit — writing is hard, brain-draining work, after all!

Plan ahead

Another way in which I make sure that I have more time available to me is by planning my week or even two weeks in advance when it comes to going shopping for groceries, etc.

Although I could get the groceries delivered, I find that it’s a good way to get out of the house over the weekend. By only going to the shops once a week (instead of every day or every second day) I can also save a lot of time.

Work on different projects at the same time

The last thing that I did that upped the amount that I write, is to work on different projects instead of only working on one project at a time.

While this on some days simply means writing a blog post and working on fiction, it keeps my brain from getting bored or getting stuck.

If I do get stuck with a certain story, it’s a lot easier to put it down a while and wait for my subconscious to sort it out for me.

That is, in short, how I’ve managed to build more time to write into my daily routine.

Photo by Samantha Hurley, Burst

Carin Marais

Written by

Carin Marais is a copy writer, translator, and fantasy author. She writes about her writing journey, mental health and shares her creative non-fiction.

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