Productivity Tip: Find Your Routine

What’s one of the most important factors that influences what you write on any given day?

Answer: how you prepare for a writing session. Everything you do leading up to when you sit down for a few hours to write influences the kinds of things that appear on the page. Your routine is important not only because it helps cue mental associations with creativity, but also because it can affect the quality of your work.

What kind of habits and routines do you have in place, if any? Here are four tips for spicing up your writing routine:

  1. Scan news headlines.¬†And not just U.S. headlines — some of the more interesting news stories can be found in other country’s news websites. If your story takes place in another country, you can use foreign news stories to help make your world richer and more specific.
  2. Outline your current scene. It’s tempting just to sit down and start hammering away at whatever scene you’re working on, but by sitting down and planning out specific details of your scene before you write it, you may be able to come up with a way to add more tension and conflict before you even start, and it helps stave off writer’s block. Making a quick list of five things that wouldn’t happen next in your story is also a great way to brainstorm ways to surprise your readers.
  3. Make point B drastically different than point A. Come up with the ending beforehand. If you know that one character is going to stand over another character with a bloody knife, it adds instant subtext and tension to the beginning of the scene where she’s chopping vegetables with that same sharp knife. Come up with surprising twists, and then work backwards.
  4. Find pictures of your setting. This can help inform how your characters interact with the environment. If you find photos of your character’s house or workplace on Google images, you may find some great props and creative ways to work in fight scenes in, say, a meat processing plant.

Get writing!

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