SIX WRITERS SHARE THEIR WRITING ROUTINES AND MINDSET TIPS.

 

I've found that creating a writing routine can be a great step in establishing writing as a regular habit and consistent part of your day-to-day. For me, it's been an important way to really commit to writing fiction, to get myself to show up to the page even on the hard days, to make that real progress with my manuscripts.

Starting a writing session with the right mindset is the key to spending less time making excuses and more time writing, and shaping positive rituals and routine around your process can be one way to do this.

Six writers share their writing routines and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Inspiration for creating a writing routine - Getting into a great writing writing mindset: six writers share their tips - How to make writing a habit.

To give you some ideas, I asked some really inspiring writers what that writing routine looks like for them, as well as their practical tips for starting a writing session with the right mindset:

Amie McNee - Author and coach - shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine

Amie McNee

Amie McNee is an author of historical fiction, with a degree specialising in Medieval sex culture, pornography and sex work. Her books explore the power of the feminine. She is a Writing Mentor, Speaker and Coach and spends her days between telling stories and championing other authors on their own journeys. She documents her own journey on the Instagram @inspiredtowrite and she has a podcast, Unpublished, where she talks about the magic of the creative process and interviews other authors.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

I like to write in the mornings. I have a really good routine, that over time has melded into a hard habit. I wake up at 7:30, eat breakfast, walk to the cafe down my road for 8-8:15. Order a black coffee, sitting in the spot in the sun. I then do my journalling for about half an hour. It unpacks all my feelings, and settles my soul. Then I write. If I am doing a first draft I must do at least 500 words. If I am editing, I like to do a minimum work on 2 chapters, but that can change depending on the day. I normally finish up around 10:30, 11 and go home to work on my business! I do this Monday - Friday. It is a joy.

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

This answer might be a little boring, but I treat my writing sessions with professionalism and seriousness. I take myself seriously as an author and I take my book seriously. I might not be being paid for my novels yet, but I might as well be, in the way that I approach them. I show up to the page every single week day, and I do the work like someone is expecting me to. I give myself endless permission slips to write badly, and to create shitty stuff, but I have to show up and I have to do the work. Over time I have become very good at trusting my creative process. I know that it might look like crap now, but eventually I will find diamonds within the rough and she will come good.


Oonagh Moon - Author - Shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine.

Oonagh Moon

Oonagh Moon is a writer from Perthshire, Scotland. She’s the author of The Bone-Men, a dark-fantasy novelette set in primeval Scotland and she is currently writing her first novel.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

My writing sessions always happen in the morning because that's when I work best. Sometimes I write in the afternoon and evening but the quality of the work is never as good! I don't have a fixed place to write from. I've a small desk in my room but share this with my partner who also works from home, so we can't use it at the same time. So sometimes I'll work from the desk or at the kitchen table. If I fancy a change of environment I'll go to a library or cafe. I used to write everything longhand, and still prefer brainstorming on paper, but it was so time-consuming typing everything up afterwards that I trained myself to work on a laptop. I can't listen to music while I write. Ideally, I'd have minimal distractions while I work but since I don't have the ideal environment to work in I just have to put up with the distractions!

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

I've discovered that taking pressure off myself as much as possible helps me start a writing session with the right mindset. I sometimes tell myself that my job isn't to write the next bestseller, it's just to write to the end of the pencil. This trick seems to loosen my imagination and keeps the words flowing. Another tip is to stay organised! Tracking my novel goals and progress in a bullet journal stops me from feeling overwhelmed and motivates me to keep going.


Jessica Rose Williams - Writer and blogger - shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine

Jessica Rose Williams

Jessica Rose Williams is a writer and slow lifestyle blogger living in a tiny village in the Peak District. She writes about simplifying life and slowing it down. Find out more about her and her ebooks on her blog Jessicarosewilliams.com or Instagram @jessicarosewilliams.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

It really depends on what frame of mind I’m in. A writing session can vary from a cosy day in bed with my laptop complete with scented candles to a late night cramming session at my dining table when I’m past a deadline. Ideally my writing should take place in the afternoon because this is when I’m most productive. As much as I’ve tried, I’ve never been an early morning writer and finally accepting that has been a gift to myself. I need a slow start, almost like a warm up. My favourite place to write is my dining table because there’s a bay window in front of it that looks out over the Derbyshire hills and I find nature inspiring.

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

The most important thing for me is to set ample time aside. If I’ve got an appointment looming or visitors arriving I just can’t get into a deep work frame of mind. I need all the loose goosey time I can get. This is why I like to work around my productive afternoon hours and arrange what I can for the mornings. I’m a big believer in doing something that’s good for your soul before starting work too. That can be anything from a walk, painting, a reading session or some yoga. For me it’s horse riding. Heading off to the stables in the morning can feel indulgent but making time for pleasure in the morning always results in a more productive afternoon. When the going gets really tough I have a fail safe routine I fall back on. I declutter my desk, put my phone in a drawer, go for a walk, pour a hot drink when I get home, put on a classical music playlist and try to forget about every other distraction so I can write. It works for me every single time.


Huma Qureshi - Writer and author - shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine

Huma Qureshi

Huma Qureshi is the author of In Spite Of Oceans, an award-winning collection of short stories. She is also a freelance journalist and has written for many national publications including The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Independent, gal-dem and Pyschologies magazine to name a few. She blogs on simple everyday living at Our Story Time where she also offers writing courses to aspiring writers too, including The Quiet Words and Postcards Home.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

As I'm also a mum to three little boys as well as being a writer, my writing is almost always on snatched time. My laptop is invariably on the dining table through out the day, and whenever I can, I'll take ten minutes to get a few words down. Twice a week, I work into the evenings, in an office I share with my husband at the bottom of the garden or on a foldaway desk in my bedroom. I keep an ongoing Notes in my iphone to keep track of any ideas that strike me as ideas for articles or blogs. I've recently re-organised my schedule so that I can have a full writing day once a week; it's important for me to get out of the house and I'm actually much more productive when I do. I head to a local cafe which is always relatively quiet and I set up for the day. They're good enough to leave me to it after I've ordered a few times over the hours!

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

I cannot write listening to music or podcasts - I need to focus - but on the occasions when I'm not just writing at the dining table and have actually got a few hours or a day of writing planned ahead of me, then I will often read something somebody else much better than me has written before I get started; a few pages of an essay or a short story or sometimes even a poem. It gets me in the mood and helps me transition out of everyday mode into writer mode.


Helen Redfern - Writer and blogger - shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine

Helen Redfern

Writer Helen Redfern (also known online as A Bookish Baker) is currently writing her first novel, and she also writes about online creativity on Patreon. Her first passion was blogging and she writes about writing, online creativity and outlining her writing goals along with stories from her life. In the last year she’s made the leap to YouTube. There she loves documenting the editing process of her novel, sharing her goals and projects, chatting about having a platform on social media and anything to do with notebooks.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

Three or four months ago I could have answered this question easily. I would get up in the morning and go downstairs. In the kitchen I’d be welcomed to the day by two excited labradors and one non-plussed cat, then the four of us would go outside and tend to the chickens and ducks before walking around the field; taking in big lungfuls of fresh morning air. Then I’d go inside, wave my children off to school before settling with my second cup of coffee at my desk. There I would write and work until lunch with a ten minute break somewhere in there to walk the dogs around the field again.

This routine was important. For me it’s all about the stuff I do before a writing session. I’ve now moved house and no longer have the chickens and the ducks or a field to walk around. I still have the dogs and cat though but our morning routine has shifted slightly. It’s thrown me a little and affected my writing.

I don’t listen to music whilst I write, in fact I find that distracting. I need silence and a space of my own. The crucial thing for me is having a morning routine that I go through before the writing starts.

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

The right mindset has evolved painfully slowly over the years. This is because I used to feel guilty about writing. Guilty because I wasn’t emptying the dishwasher or cleaning the bathroom, guilty because it felt like an indulgence. I also used to feel like I was a pretender. I wasn’t a real writer, this was something I was ‘playing’ at.

So changing this mindset was hard. I think social media helped a lot. I started talking and writing about my writing process on Instagram and my YouTube channel as well as my blog and found so many people could relate. In addition I started calling myself a writer, which, over time, made me act like a writer and I started to prioritise my work.

More recently I have focused on three goals. These goals are divided into projects and the projects divided into tasks. This means that every day I know what I’m doing and, if I have a break from writing for a while (like when we moved house) I come back and know what I’m doing. In fact, these goals and projects have changed everything for me. I know that every day, when I sit at my desk, I am working towards these goals.


Rosie O'Neill - Creative writing mentor - shares her writing routine and mindset tips - Rosie O'Neill - Creating a writing routine

Rosie O’Neill (me!)

Rosie O'Neill is a creative writing mentor with a passion for helping writers find purpose through their creativity, overcome the obstacles holding them back, and make a meaningful impact on the world. You can find her first ebook - a resource for writers wanting to make a more purposeful, anchored start to a big writing project - here. She also writes contemporary fantasy fiction for young adults, and is currently editing her fourth novel and seeking representation for her manuscripts.

What does a writing session look like for you in a practical sense?

Working on my novel is something I like to do at either the start or the end of a day (if I'm finding progress slow I'll always make it my first priority, as my energy and creative output is far higher then). I listen to music when I write, but it has to be something very familiar so that I can fade it out into the background. I'll often listen to the same album or even song for hours at a time. My non-negotiable when writing is privacy - I can't write in cafes or public places and always choose a quiet spot at home, whether that's at my studio desk or on the sofa.

I do a lot of daydreaming and thinking about my writing - a very important part of the process - which can occur anywhere from my daily walks to in bed before I go to sleep, and even in the shower! This means that when I sit down to write, I'm ready to actually start typing.

How do you approach a writing session with the right mindset?

For me, it's all about enjoying the process. I know if I can find a way to get myself feeling excited and enthusiastic about the writing, inspiration always follows, and that's what gets those words flowing. To get myself into this mindset I have a few tricks. One is to start by rereading some of what I've already written - a favourite passage or dialogue exchange - something that helps me fall in love with my characters and story all over again. Another way is to start by writing something I'm already looking forward to, like an an argument or highly charged emotional scene. Once I've found my flow I'll then drop back to where I was and fill in whatever I need to - usually some scene setting or a complex bit of action.

Also, I always make sure I have a plan. Even a brief, bullet-pointed list or a rough outline gives me direction and stops me from getting overwhelmed with the work ahead of me.

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