Discover how writing helps you learn, the benefits of creating a regular writing routine, and how you can create your own writing schedule.
“I’m just not very good at writing.”
"Oh, I'm just a blogger, not a real writer."
“Writing a book would be awesome, but that’ll never happen.”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? If you're like most people, you've probably underestimated your writing skills. There’s a common misconception that writing is a natural talent, and either you have it or don't. However, this is far from the truth.
Though some people are naturally gifted at writing, everyone has the potential to become a better writer. Regular writing helps improve proficiency and also offers valuable learning opportunities.
But how do you find time to write when you have so much to do already?
Whether you want to write your first book, become the next Stephen King, or just learn a few writing hacks for your day job, creating a consistent writing schedule can help.
In this article, you'll discover how writing helps you learn, the benefits of creating a regular writing routine, and how you can get started creating a custom writing schedule.
Writing to learn
Regardless of skill level or innate ability, everyone can benefit from consistent writing.
In their book, “Language Connections,” the concept of "writing to learn" was first introduced in the early 1980s by Michigan Technological University professors Toby Fulwiler and Art Young. Their theory suggests that unlike writing for communication — which is intended for others to read — we use writing for learning to explain our experiences to ourselves. This fundamental difference is also why dedicated writing time is beneficial to the learning process.
The writing process provides a unique opportunity to reflect on new information, analyze it, and develop our own understanding. We can synthesize our daily experiences to gain the most insight when we write regularly.
For this reason, setting a writing goal is a powerful tool for achieving professional and personal success. Whether you hope to become a blogger or focus on novel writing full-time, establishing a consistent writing habit can stimulate your mind and boost your growth.
The value of a consistent writing routine
Consistent writing is one of the best tools to achieve your goals and become a productive writer. In fact, a variety of research studies have shown that simple writing exercises can yield significant benefits, like improved comprehension and retention.
Research on writing has been conducted for decades, and multiple studies have revealed several other proven benefits:
- Enhanced productivity: Studies have shown that writing regularly for short periods increases productivity levels.
- Habit formation: Creating a lifelong habit is greatly influenced by how often you practice it, so keeping a routine will increase your success rate.
- Stress reduction: Research has shown that just 45 minutes of creativity per day can lower cortisol levels and reduce stress.
- Healing: Regular writing improves physical and mental health, reduces depression, and increases resilience.
- More profound gratitude: Regularly writing about meaningful topics boosts appreciation, leading to benefits such as increased empathy and self-worth.
Why you need a writing schedule
Despite the many benefits, fitting in writing sessions can be tricky, especially if you have a busy schedule. To get into the habit, schedule your writing sessions ahead of time.
After all, as writer and philosopher Will Durant said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
A well-organized writing schedule is crucial to success as a writer. Creating a plan for your writing sessions ensures sufficient time to work without interfering with other duties. Having an allotted time for your tasks can also reduce distractions and help keep you accountable, allowing you to focus more deeply and avoid procrastination.
Developing writing goals and writing down a detailed writing schedule in advance will improve your chances of staying on track. Putting your goals in writing is proven to increase your probability of success. A research study discovered that 76% of people who wrote down their goals succeeded in reaching them. In comparison, only 43% realized their goals just by thinking about them.
Declaring a specific goal is also known to trigger new behaviors, helping you focus on your progress and maintain your momentum.
7 steps to create a consistent writing routine
It’s undeniable that developing a consistent writing schedule has many benefits and can help build a daily writing habit. But what writing routine should you follow?
There is only one absolute rule for writing — write.
Although a daily writing routine has its benefits, the truth is that everyone's writing process is unique, so what may work for one writer may not work for you. In fact, trying to stick to a schedule that goes against your natural inclinations can be detrimental. Research has found that failure undermines learning by decreasing focus and recall.
What's the best writing schedule for you? Your perfect writing day depends on many factors, including your writing goals, day job, attention span, and skill level. Check out this step-by-step guide for seven writing tips to help you find the best writing session for you.
1. Find your peak productivity time
Identifying your personal creative hours is crucial to creating your ideal writing schedule. Writing can be done at any time of day, but it's important to schedule your writing time when it makes the most sense for you. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others prefer late afternoon or evening writing sessions.
Pay attention to your natural rhythms for a few days. Take note of when you do your best work, as well as your energy and focus levels. It’s also helpful to think about your day job and writing habits from the past few months. What time did you feel most productive, and when did you experience writer's block or need a quick nap?
Documenting this information should reveal a pretty clear pattern. For example, you'll figure out whether you're an early bird or a night owl depending on when you feel alert and focused. Once you've identified the time of day when you feel the most productive, aim to craft your writing schedule during this time.
2. Create a meaningful workspace
English professor Neal Lerner makes it clear, “A neutral writing space is really important if you intend to get any writing done.”
Research suggests that your work environment impacts productivity, wellness, and overall satisfaction. Be mindful of this and set aside a specific writing space. To set yourself up for success, try to find an area conducive to the writing process. If possible, isolate yourself in a room that has a closed door to eliminate outside distractions and promote uninterrupted work.
It’s also essential to keep your writing space consistent. Continually using the same environment can signal your brain into deep work mode. A familiar object like a scented candle can be used as a totem for enhancing focus.
3. Get organized
Setting up a workflow that suits your needs requires organizing your time and tools. Many tools can assist you in managing your writing schedule, streamlining your process, and increasing your productivity.
Try project management software (Asana and Trello are popular choices) to keep track of your writing projects and their stages. Keep track of how long you write during each writing session or how efficient you are at writing sprints by using a time tracking tool like Toggl. Additionally, a focus app like Freedom can help you remove distractions and keep you focused as you write.
Also, don't underestimate the power of paper — an old-fashioned calendar is a highly effective organizational tool.
4. Block time for deep work
Be sure to plan your writing schedule in a way that breaks down your time into focused writing sessions. You might block writing days for first drafts or responding to writing prompts. Using time blocks can also help you block out periods to work deeply.
The “deep work” philosophy was developed by professor and author Cal Newport. In his book of the same title, Newport argues that we achieve our best results when we push our cognitive capacities to their limits. We do this by entering deep work mode, or by blocking out all distractions for an extended period.
Working deeply allows you to reach a flow state, where you are so focused on your task that time seems to slip away, and work flows effortlessly. This profound workflow allows your creativity to flourish.
5. Schedule breaks
To do your best work, it’s also important to include breaks in your schedule. Our brains are actually naturally adept at avoiding intense concentration, so it’s crucial to give yourself time to step away from your writing and recharge.
According to a study conducted by employee tracking software company Desktime, taking frequent breaks helps you be more productive, not working longer hours. They found that the best performers worked for 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break.
The length of your breaks is up to you, but sticking to the scheduled break is essential to maintain focus and avoid burnout.
6. Plan for leisure reading
Joyce Carol Oates said, "Reading is the springboard to writing."
To further your goals, be sure to carve out some time to read. As a writer, you want to broaden your horizons and welcome different influences. Research shows that you become better at writing complex material when you practice reading it. Reading helps you understand thoughts, how words relate to them, and how they work together.
As a bonus, taking a little leisure time can help you relax and reduce stress.
7. Spice it up
Just like any routine, repeating a writing schedule can eventually become tedious. Change things up occasionally to keep your writing sessions fresh and interesting.
Join a writing group to benefit from the power of community. Utilize writing platforms like Medium and social media apps to connect with other writers and exchange writing advice. Consider participating in writing events such as NaNoWriMo, where you can achieve your writing goals and network with other writers.
Adding writing to your routine at another time of day is also an option. If you want to get your creativity flowing, try Julia Cameron's method of writing three stream-of-consciousness Morning Pages first thing in the morning. Morning routines have been proven to have a positive influence on your day.
Go forth and write
Armed with your new writing schedule, all that's left is to put it into action.
Developing a writing schedule — and sticking to it — is essential for writing success. Trial and error are necessary, but eventually, you'll find a routine that works well for you. Ultimately, the best writing schedule is one that allows you to do your best work and achieve your self-learning goals.
Try out these seven tips to help you get the most out of your writing schedule. And don’t forget — practice makes perfect!
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