Routines do a lot for people’s emotional well being. I should know.
You see, I’m Autistic. Part of what that means, at least in my own case, is that my life feels a lot scarier without having some set routines or when established ones were broken. I have tried to avoid the terror of broken routine by avoiding establishing routines altogether. That hasn’t gone so well. Without routines, I’ve experiences skills atrophy, and days where indecision, listlessness and even depression have set in. Yet the days when I have a routine, I seem to be less impacted.
This is far from just an Autistic thing, though. Many productivity guides suggest establishing new routines. Routines ease time management difficulties and reduce your daily stress load. Writers regularly talk about the benefits of writing daily, and studies show that routines before bed lead to better sleep, which in turns leads to better productivity. Even your dog benefits from routines.
So this year, I’ll be doing a series on establishing routines, and trying to follow them myself. I’ll go over what other people have tried, set goals (and say why), and ask you to think up your own routines related to the topic of the month. At the end of each month, we’ll talk about our successes and struggles.
At the end of the year we’ll see what we’ve maintained long term. Ready?
First up: writing routines.
There’s lots of information out there about writing routines, including posts that we’ve run here on P-mag. They range from daily free-writes to finding the places you write most productively. Some people swear by challenges like NaNoWriNo or NaPoWriMo. Others talk about sites like Written? Kitten! and 750 Words.
But a lot of them are focused on getting something done, and not so much on finishing. They also tend to skew towards fiction writing, which is wonderful for fiction writers, but can make things tricky when you are working with non-fiction.
While I have struggled with fiction writing in recent times, the skill areas that I have the most use for are actually in non-fiction. I tend to be very sporadic when it comes to me actually posting things to the wide number of blogs and other sites that I write for. On my advocacy blog, I regularly end up going quite a few months without a post, followed by a few weeks where I have many posts all at once. Even here on Persephone, I have droughts and floods in my writing. While some of it does have to do with how long it takes to put the right words to ideas, there are other, not so large ideas I can and should be writing about.
In an effort to establish a routine about writing that is more suited to my own needs, I’ve decided to write a post weekly. Not all of them will be here on P-mag, some will be on other blogs and websites. The goal is just to have something finished and ready for publication online somewhere once a week. It’s a flexible goal, allowing me to write on the topics I have the time and energy for on weeks when my schedule is less than conducive. Not all things need to go up the week they are written; for example, this post was written several weeks before it was posted.
I want you to think about what area of your writing you need to work on. It doesn’t need to be big, it just needs to be something to which you can add a new routine. Some of you will likely need to get inventive if you’ve been working on your writing a lot. Others might be new to actually following routines. The important thing is that it is a manageable step, customized to what level you personally are working on. And yes, goals related to your thesis/dissertation/class essays count. Please share, ask for help, and brag politely in the comments.