How to find your most productive writing routine
Writing is the thing that comes the easiest to me but even that can be split into two kinds: the easy and the hard varieties.
There are different ways to categorise easy vs hard writing, so today I will do it based on the time taken to write a post.
Easy writing is where I just open the laptop, think of a prompt or look at a visual cue and the words start to flow. These pieces typically take me between 10 to 15 minutes to put together.
Writing on Medium falls into the ‘easy’ writing category.
Hard writing is where I labour over a piece. This is especially more true of my fiction pieces, where each word, each sentence and each paragraph is something I tweak over and over until I am satisfied with the end product.
- Even then I don’t get the best result possible. But I digress.
Much like fiction writing, my long-form tutorials fall into the hard writing category.
Now this hard writing doesn’t involve laboured effort in thinking as much as it does in research and SEO.
Either way, hard writing can take me between 45 minutes to 2 hours, sometimes 3.
It then stands to reason that the time I need to devote to easy vs hard writing is significantly different.
Here’s what works for me when it comes to discovering that peak productivity time of the day:
- Write at the same time everyday
Today is day 6 of writing daily on Medium. While doing this exercise I learnt that my brain is at its sharpest when it is early in the morning.
As soon as I’ve woken up, finished my morning ablutions and had a glass of warm water, I sit down to write here on Medium.
I either have an idea already crafted in draft form or I dive straight into the writing process.
Read more about my recommended 12-step morning routine for writers
2. Focus on routine; not motivation
Whether it’s a fitness habit or a writing habit, this rule holds good when you want to be productive on a daily basis.
Set a daily time to write or work out daily and show up.
It needn’t be your best work or your best workout. What matters is that you show up.
3. Keep a log of your peak productivity times
While easy writing happens first thing in the morning, I notice that my long form pieces come together much better between 4 pm and 7 pm.
For the longest time, I battled this and told myself it wasn’t right and I should write as soon as I was awake in the morning.
But I realized something interesting.
4 PM is that sweet spot in my day.
It’s just after my afternoon siesta. My mind is bright and awake and ready to work. It’s after lunch and before dinner, so my mind is not thinking about what to eat or what to cook.
There are no urgent messages to respond to or important emails to send off.
With a cup of steaming tea by my side, I can focus all my energies on the creative process.
Doing so ensures that I can dive straight into deep work without distractions.
So, in a nutshell, what is the best writing time that works?
This will depend completely on you.
Find the routine that works and stick with it. You’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into the creation rhythm on a day to day basis.