In this post I will explore my weekly/daily routine. Creating a balanced routine is a difficult task. I want to be productive, but my ambition has to be curtailed by the realities of the world. I am envious of writers who can write 2,000 (and more) words per day, but I have to stay grounded in my own reality. Although, the truth is I that could write 3,000 words (or even more) per day but, honestly, I don’t want to or rather I will not allow myself to.
After years of experimenting and adjusting how I spend my time, I have learned how my mind works and found out my level of energy and productivity. I am obsessed with planning my time and I can get carried away with my productivity hopes and ambitions. I force myself to recognise how much I can realistically achieve in a given timeframe.
I also realised that, although, I identify as a writer and I have chosen this vocation for my future – I do not want to forget or neglect other interests, like working out, playing video games, watching movies, reading, editing, learning other things etc. The difficult part is to curtail my ambitions within my routine – and this is the part I am still trying to figure out. I could be a person who writes 10,000 words a day; I could be the person who studies writing techniques and tricks 8 hours a day but that would mean sacrificing everything else – and I don’t think I am prepared to make this decision just yet.
It took effort and sacrifices to understand myself well-enough to come to the routine that I am happy with. It was a compromise between long-term aspirations and short-term happiness. There is always this conflict of what I feel that I should want and what I actually want; what I want to achieve in the future and what I want this second. My routine helps with that. I can balance my future and my present by compromising and satisfying both.
I don’t believe that writing is my gift. I have no self-illusions about being placed on this earth to amaze people with my talent as a writer and to wow the audiences with my skills as a poet and storyteller. I just write because I want to. I choose to write in my free time, whether it is at 6 a.m. before work; in the evening after work; or before bed. I believe that recognising that you don’t have to write is a healthy mindset. I don’t have to write on the weekend if I would rather do something else, but I should write if I want to.
I am because I do, not because I was born into this mission; not because I am a messenger from above. It’s not written in the stars unless I climb up there myself, rip the stars off and carve my name in them. As a beginner writer, I struggled with this idea that writers write because they have to and it was demoralizing. Every word that I did not write haunted me and demotivated me. Then, I learned that it is a choice, just like everything else in life that we do. We can choose what we do with our time and how we spend it and who’s to say what I should and shouldn’t do.
So, a balanced routine – that looks at my future wants and needs without compromising present happiness – was my answer to my inner conflicts. The routine keeps me focused, let’s me forget about my ambitions and future uncertainty.
I use this template to structure all of my time and all of my interests, but for the purposes of this post, I will only give you the example of my writing routine.
So I have divided my time into categories/chunks. They resemble chapters of my life or what I am currently working on. They can be: writing, editing, learning a new language, working out, reading, watching movies etc.
Then I took each of these categories and evaluated how much time they would require or what I actually want to do with them. For example,
- 500 – 1000 words a day on a novel
- 2 poems a week
- 1 short story a week
- 1 flash fiction piece a week
- 1 blog post a week
- 1 essay a week
- Other: if there is a project I am working on, I will work towards that, depending on time and energy. But everything above is more or less compulsory.
Don’t be mistaken – this is the plan but it does not mean I always meet my daily writing goal or write all the planned pieces in a week. It is a guideline that I try to meet and it gives me a clear and detailed plan to follow.
Then I schedule these tasks on my calendar and use task lists to help structure my days and weeks. This helps me see if I will have the time to do all of these tasks – if I am being realistic with my time.
This works so much better than scribbling “Write today” on a post it note or keeping that thought “I have to write today” in the back of your mind. You need to know what writing is to you. Is it to write for an hour or write 100 words? You have to be specific about what you want to do and work towards that.
This is a small part of my life, but this template works and keeps me producing work every week, even if some days I may not have any motivation, inspiration or energy.