You used to have a great writing habit.
Key word being used to.
But now, perhaps because of a new school year, an unexpected move, or a diagnosis, that writing habit is out the window. Your entire schedule or somewhat flexible writing routine has vanished with a simple flip of the calendar.
And that’s left you sad. Disappointed in yourself. Maybe even a little guilty.
Friend, I have been there. In fact, in many respects, I am there, literally right at this moment. As I write this, I am a college freshman who feels like she has been plunged into college life as suddenly as jumping into the freezing deep end. I have no idea where writing fits into my current schedule, and ‘writing consistently’ has been anything but consistent.
You may feel the same. Neither of us is sure how to be more consistent with writing again when everything around us has changed. Is it even worth starting again?
Yes, it is. Because writing consistently matters, you don’t have to feel guilty about your lost writing habit, and you can build up a new writing schedule.
Read on to find out how.
Why Writing Consistently Matters
There are two types of people reading this right now.
Some are sure that they NEED to get their habit of writing regularly back and some feel like maybe writing consistently is a thing of the past.
They’re both right.
You see, if you want to make something out of your writing, writing consistently is your writing superpower. It helps keep you from writer’s block, increases your creativity, and helps you knock out lofty word count goals with relative ease.
Writing consistently will help you continually practice and develop your craft. After all, writers only learn by writing.
But if you are thinking writing consistently and daily might be a thing of the past for you, you could be right too. If you just write as a hobby, then this changing season might be a sign that it’s time to focus on other things. That doesn’t mean you can’t write, you just maybe don’t need to focus so much on writing anymore.
And that’s ok. Things change sometimes. If this is you, you can stop this post right now!
But if you love writing, if words simmer in your mind and bubble out of your soul, if you can’t help but write and want to write for the rest of your life, then consistency matters for you. I know you want to quit, but you can’t just let go of your consistency because life is hard.
Look at it this way. If writing is an intrinsic piece of your soul, then God is the one who has woven it in. God has given you the gift and desire to write. And since He has, you have the responsibility to steward that gift well.
Even when it’s hard, this is your calling: to steward, to write well, and develop your gift well by being consistent. It’s easy to want to give up, but the very nature of writing writing, and more importantly God’s calling, means that we can’t let ourselves make excuses about this. Your writing consistency matters, regardless of how motivated you feel to actually write.
I knew this myself as I settled into my transitioning world. So I developed some strategies to get my consistency back on track, which I am about to share with you. But before you or I can get back to climbing the mountain of developing a writing habit, we have to let go of the burden that is dragging us down.
And my burden was heavy.
A Word to the Guilty Writer
As I settled into the busyness of college life, something tainted my joy. It weighed me down until I had to stop my running around and take a minute to identify it. It took me a matter of moments to name the familiar emotion that often taunts me:
It wasn’t that I had something to be guilty about. Breaking a writing habit isn’t a cardinal sin, and it isn’t something you need to beat yourself up over. I knew that.
But I still felt bad that I had ruined something that I had worked so hard to build up.
Maybe you feel the same way, sick and tired of failing yourself.
If you do, let me remind you again that “it’s ok to let go of some things for a time. As the Bible says, “To everything, there is a season…”
Maybe the way you used to write isn’t going to work for you anymore. That’s ok. Things change. Habits have to change right along with them.
Even if writing is extremely important to you, writing is going to look different in every season of your life. It just is. You won’t write the same way now as you will when you’re twenty, thirty, or even (gasp) forty.
Writing consistently does not mean that you have this mechanical habit that you are stuck in for the rest of your life, otherwise you have failed as a writer. For one, that’s creepy and for two, that’s just not possible.
Things change. And that’s ok.
So take a breath, and let it out. Let the guilt seep away.
It’s ok that things are changing and it’s ok to start over.
How to be More Consistent with Writing in the Midst of a Changing Schedule
Once I anchored myself with the wisdom from above and released the burden of guilt weighing me down, I felt like I was ready to start over. But I wasn’t sure how. How do you build back up a habit of consistency in a situation like this when you already know how to write more consistently?
This is what I came up with.
1. Give your schedule time to settle.
I know that all my type A, get ‘er done people are champing at the bit out there. But it might be time to hold your horses. (Wow, that was a very farm-y analogy. But you get the point.)
Before you start, you should consider that now might not be the right time to try and set up a new writing habit, especially if this change is fairly recent. If you moved a week ago, just started school, or something else entirely, it might not be the best time to try and add another new thing.
Take a minute (a week, two weeks, whatever you need) and breathe. Let things fall into new rhythms. Give yourself time to adjust to your changing circumstances before you try and add something else to your schedule.
Give your schedule time to settle down, and then things will become clear and you will be able to see. Speaking of clarity…
2. Get things written down.
Especially after a big change, it’s extremely difficult to keep all the details about your schedule just up in your head, floating around. You may be feeling overwhelmed over everything that is going on right now and feel like you don’t have any time to write anymore.
There’s only one way to find out if that’s true.
Pull out your planner (or if you don’t have one, grab a calendar or blank sheet of paper), and write out what a typical week will look like for you with this new adjustment. Put down everything you can think of that would take up a decent amount of your time (school, family responsibilities, work, etc.)
Get everything you can down on paper so you can visually see things. Then move on to step three.
3. Start small.
Now that you have things written down, take a good look at your schedule. There should be a few times when nothing is happening or at least one good time for you to write a week. Set it aside right now for writing.
You may be thinking, “One time a week? I used to write every day!”
If you can still write every day, go for it! But I would recommend either lowering your previous daily word count or writing fewer days. Start small. You are rebuilding a new habit of consistency and accomplishing a small goal regularly is more important than just writing an impressive goal and never doing anything about it.
You will write more words by having small sessions than by burning yourself out in a week with an unsustainable schedule. Those 100-word days add up…
4. Make a plan for building up.
Once you have your small starting point, take another piece of paper and write down your goals for building up. For example, if you want to start writing every Saturday, maybe try adding a Sunday and then a Monday and so on until you’re writing every day. Or if you’re writing 100 words a day, you may want to increase that to 150, then 200, and so on.
Whatever that looks like for you, make a plan for building up until you are consistently writing a sustainable amount of words daily.
Get a dream project.
As I went through all of the above steps, made my goals, and thought through my plans, I realized that something was missing. I was temporarily between projects and I had no idea what to work on. It’s easy to just view consistency as getting random words on the page, but you will be more motivated if you have something to work on.
So I found an idea that excited me, a deadline I needed to make anyways, and I started writing in my small time each week.
Do the same. Find an idea that excites you, something that you believe in. And then write about it, each time you have set aside for writing during the week. Set a deadline for yourself for finishing your project. And began building back slowly to a time of consistency.
What This May Look Like for You
If you have just started at a new school/program of study and are inundated with assignments, projects, and tests, this may look like sitting down and finding one time on the weekend that you can write. Stick to it faithfully and commit to getting your homework done around it.
If you or a family member have just gotten some kind of diagnosis, and your world has turned into a whirlwind of hospital visits, then maybe start journaling every night and working on your WIP once a week. This will help with your consistency and also help you process what is going on (but if you need to take a break, do that too!).
If you have just gotten a new hobby, started playing a sport, or have begun volunteering, the time blocking method might be most helpful for you. Sit down and figure out how much time a week you need for this new part of your schedule. Physically block it out on a weekly calendar.
Hopefully, there should be some blank time around this hobby/time commitment. Find two or three times a week to dedicate to sitting down and writing.
If you have just started a new job, or maybe are working for the first time, you probably have an amount of hours that you want to get to every week. (If not, figuring out how many hours you want to work is a good place to start.) Take a look at your written schedule and figure out what times would work best for getting that amount of hours and how writing fits around that.
Depending on the kind of job, working could be a great mental break for you from your writing. If you are working a job that doesn’t involve much creativity (like cleaning for example), it may be beneficial for you to work and write in close succession. Giving yourself that time to do things that are relatively mindless will help refresh your creativity before you write and will rejuvenate it after.
Note: if two or three of these categories apply to you and your schedule looks blocked up, I have to tell you the unfortunate truth that we all only have twenty-four hours in a day. If you don’t have time to write (or eat or sleep), then something, unfortunately, has to go.
You can’t do everything. This situation may call for you evaluating your priorities and making strategic decisions to wisely use your time.
Your Next Steps
Now that you know why writing consistently matters, why it’s ok to start over, and some steps on how to start back in building a consistent writing habit, you may be wondering to yourself, “But Ellie, does this method actually work for you?”
I think it did. But I’ll leave the decision up to you. After all, you have a blog post to read don’t you? 🙂
All in all, I would encourage you to just start. Whatever small amount of time that looks like right now, start building back that habit of consistency and just writing.
To help with that, I have included a printable calendar for free with this post so that you can track your journey back to consistency. I hope this helps you develop your writing habit back and once again become the consistent, successful writer that you were and are.