How to Build a Writing Routine

How to Build a Writing Routine: Tips and Inspiration

While I like to imagine that one day, I’ll write my book in one go, spend feverish hours typing away, too inspired to eat or drink (you know, like they do in movies), the reality is that it’s never going to happen. Writing is a craft like any other: it needs to be practiced daily, or at least regularly. And writing a whole book is more about hard, dedicated work than a stroke of genius.

Yes, you do get that initial spark of inspiration, that ember that gets you going – and there’s no feeling quite like it. But after it dulls, after a day or two passes and you still have a whole middle and ending to write, plots to figure out, and characters that do whatever they feel like, you need discipline. And this is something we all struggle with.

Why a Writing Routine Matters

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of crafting your writing routine, let’s discuss why it even matters.

  • Consistency: A routine helps you write regularly (but you need to stick to it).
  • Creativity: You can set up your routine to boost your creativity (play nice music, light some candles, drink some coffee).
  • Overcoming Writer’s Block: A set routine can help break through writer’s block by making writing a habit, rather than a sporadic event. You could write 100 or 1000 words a day, but all that matters is that you do it.

Key Elements of a Writing Routine

Now, let’s break down the essential elements of an effective writing routine:

1. Set a Writing Goal

Establish clear goals, whether it’s a word count, a page count, or a set time for writing. I like to set a certain amount of time where I absolutely have to write. Some days, I write straight through my hour goals, but some days, I just sit there with three or four horrible sentences and zero progress. But it feels like less pressure than making myself write a certain amount of words.

2. Create a Dedicated Writing Space

Find a quiet, comfortable space where you can write without distractions. I’ll be the first one to say that I don’t have a dedicated writing space, though it probably helps. For me, it’s any place in the house that’s the comfiest and feels best at the time. But I also have ADHD, so changing environments helps me focus more.

3. Set a Schedule

Determine when you’re most productive and allocate that time for writing. If you’re a parent like me, this will be whenever your kids are at school or sleeping. I like to write very early in the mornings before anyone is up, or in the afternoons when they’re taking naps.

4. Gather Your Tools

Make sure you have everything you need, whether it’s a laptop, pen and paper, or a specific writing software. For me, it’s my laptop and coffee, sometimes a candle, and even headphones so I can play some music. Choose what works best for you.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Silence your phone, close unnecessary tabs, and create a focused environment. I’m very bad at this. And it’s usually not social media that distracts me, but all of my other ideas. As much as I try to focus, sometimes my mind meanders and ends up on a totally different book idea. For example, the other day, I was working on my contemporary romance but then got this whole new idea for a fantasy story. And I just had to write it down.

But if you can, try to eliminate anything that might distract you.

Lessons from Famous Authors

And hey, if you can’t come up with your own writing routine, or you’d just like some tried and true ideas, here’s what famous writers normally do.

1. Stephen King

Stephen King writes like a thousand books a year, and I often wonder how he does it. Well, it turns out he writes every day, aiming for a goal of 2,000 words. Which is quite a lot when you do it every day.

2. Maya Angelou

The beloved poet and author Maya Angelou had an unusual writing routine. She checked into a hotel room every morning, leaving behind all distractions. This isolation helped her maintain her focus and complete her work. And while most of us wouldn’t be able to afford this type of routine, maybe you can take away the lesson that you should find a quiet and distraction-free space to write.

3. Haruki Murakami

Look, I don’t like how he writes women, and Norwegian Wood scarred me, but you can’t deny he’s a good writer, and very productive at that. He’s also a night owl. He writes for six hours each night, starting at 9:00 PM. I personally could never (I’m a morning person, dark makes me sleepy and lazy), but if something like this works for you, go with it.

4. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was known for his disciplined approach to writing. He would wake up early in the morning, often at dawn, and write for several hours. His secret was to stop writing when he knew what would happen next in his story, making it easier to pick up the next day. I find this is the most similar to what I do. However, I’m terrible at stopping at a good point. I write until I run out of ideas, and then spend days figuring out the next plot point with no progress.

5. George R.R. Martin

The author of the epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin has a more flexible approach to his writing routine. He doesn’t set specific word counts or daily goals. Instead, he focuses on the quality of his writing and allows himself to take breaks when needed. Which, you know, is also fine, but we’re also still waiting for the final part of the Game of Throne series, so take this with a grain of salt.

The one thing I would take away from this is to give yourself days off. I tried so hard to be diligent and write every day, even when my mental health suffered for it, and I ended up burning myself out and taking a break that lasted three months.

6. Anne Rice

Famous for her gothic novels, Anne Rice had a late-night writing routine. She would start writing at midnight and continue into the early hours of the morning.

7. Toni Morrison

The late Nobel laureate Toni Morrison had a full-time job while writing her first novel. She woke up early in the morning, around 4:00 AM, to write before work. This discipline and dedication allowed her to complete her debut novel, The Bluest Eye. And this is so inspiring to me, because like most people, I also have a full-time job, so writing all day is not an option. My job is mostly writing too, which I love, but then I get drained out after a full day of doing it, so working on my stories before work allows me to tap into that creativity before it gets spent on my job.

9. Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was a pioneering writer of the modernist era, known for her distinctive writing style and unique perspective. She had a writing routine that was shaped by her introspective and contemplative nature. Woolf often wrote in her personal writing shed, which she called her “writing lodge.”

Her routine involved early morning writing, starting at dawn, when the world was still quiet. She believed that this time of day allowed her to access a deeper, more creative part of her consciousness. Woolf wrote her novels, essays, and diaries while sitting at her desk, surrounded by the soothing sounds of nature.

Virginia Woolf was a proponent of “stream of consciousness” writing, where thoughts flow freely onto the page, and she would write in longhand. Her dedication to this routine resulted in some of the most influential works of literature in the 20th century, including Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando.

Tips to Build Your Writing Routine

Now, let’s explore some tips to help you create your unique writing routine:

1. Experiment with Timing

Try different times of the day to write. Morning, afternoon, or night – discover when you’re most productive.

2. Be Realistic with Goals

Set achievable writing goals. It’s better to start small and gradually increase your targets as you build consistency.

3. Include Breaks

Don’t forget to schedule short breaks. It’s essential to recharge your creativity and avoid burnout.

4. Find Your Ideal Space

Your writing space should be tailored to your preferences. Experiment with various settings to find the one that suits you best.

5. Embrace Flexibility

Life can be unpredictable. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t stick to your routine occasionally. Adapt and continue.


Building a writing routine is an exciting journey of self-discovery. While you can draw inspiration from famous authors, remember that your routine should be uniquely yours. The key is to find what works for you and make writing a habit. So, grab your pen, find your space, and start building a writing routine that you’ll love. And hey, if you have any tips for me, feel free to leave them in the comments down below.

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