I’m a fan of routines, especially when it comes to getting myself in the right frame of mind to work.
By adding small actions to our daily routine, we can program our brains to better tackle our goals. S.J. Scott calls this habit stacking, which goes something like this:
Small action + small action + small action = sustainable routine
We can create a sequence of easy tasks that shifts us into the ideal writing mindset simply through the act of completing them.
I have a “habit stack” for the various areas of my life; but, today I will share the sequence I use when I want to get my head into the right writing space. I invite you to use this as a jumping off point for creating your own habit stack.
1. Make Coffee
2. Drink Coffee + Read for at least 30 Minutes
I like to read in the genre I plan to write in. I’m currently reading The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.
3. Eat a Light Breakfast
Eating anything heavy will just make me want to get back into bed.
4. 20-30 Minutes of Cardio
Working out does wonders for my energy and clarity. When I skip this part, I see a huge decrease in my ability to focus.
Because working out is a sweaty business.
6. Get Dressed
When you work from home, it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas. I hate pants as much as the next person but if I don’t get dressed, there’s a strong chance I’ll end up lounging around instead of accomplishing my daily goals.
7. Close the Door
There’s nothing worse than getting in the zone only to be interrupted by your roommate/partner/family. If you are able, find a distraction free place to write, preferably with a door and a lock.
8. Listen to My Writing Jams
I have different playlists for each genre I write in. I listen to these every single time I get to work and stay way from them when it’s time for leisure. That way, my brain knows I mean business.
9. Identify My Goals for the Day
At this stage, I grab a note card and some colorful pens and write out everything I want to get done during my session. I then pin it to my cork board and use a Sharpie to cross off each item when it is complete.
10. Write, Write, Write
I’ve finished the sequence and now it’s time to pound out some sweet, sweet prose.
You’ll notice that things like “scroll through Facebook” and “check email” are missing from this habit stack. That’s on purpose. Nothing kills my focus and mood faster than opening the floodgate of notifications and people vying for my attention.
Login after you get your work done. Your word count will thank you.
This is the writing ritual that works for me; yours will look somewhat different. The important thing is that you consistently perform the same small actions leading up to your goal (i.e. writing). This tells your brain that when you perform the sequence, it’s time to get to work.
What’s your writing ritual?