Being a writer is a challenging creative pursuit, because as writers, we spend a lot of time alone, in our heads. And for the longest time writers have been told they should write "when they feel inspired."
Which couldn't be further from the truth.
You can't just write when you're inspired, you have to write consistently, regardless of if you're inspired or not.
Finding success as a writer requires you to be intentional about your writing. To do things with purpose.
Easier said than done, I know.
That's why I've created routines and rituals around getting my writing done. Because writing is a sacred practice that needs to be treated as such.
Here are the five routines and rituals I've used to change my writing life:
1. Write Before I Do Anything Else (Routine)
When I'm working on a novel, my routine is to get up, take the dog out and then sit down to do my writing. I spend at least an hour working, and then I move on with my day. Sometimes I go back to the writing, sometimes I don't.
But regardless, I got my writing done.
And not only that, but I've sustained my creative energy, and sent a message to the Universe that says, "I take my writing dream seriously."
This creates a momentum for my day that allows me to be more productive than I would've been if I skipped my writing session ('cause then I'll spend my whole day thinking about writing).
Take Action: Put your writing first. It's the only way.
2. Write 5 Days A Week, Minimum (Routine)
When I'm in novel-writing mode, I commit myself to showing up to the page every day of the week and doing my writing. Weekends are optional.
This kind of commitment and consistency builds on itself, and the reward for all my hard work is two days off to marinate, dream and play.
Doing this helps me come back to the page on Monday morning feeling refreshed, inspired and ready to write.
Take Action: Figure out a writing routine you can stick with consistently every week and then commit to showing up.
3. Release Fears, Doubts and Excuses On the Regular (Ritual)
We're human and we have negative thoughts. But if you're not deliberate about it, negative thoughts can overtake you. Negative thoughts do not serve you. All they do is stop you from showing up fully in the present moment.
You have a writing dream, just like I do, and the only way for us to fulfill our dream is to push past the things that stop us from doing the work.
Having rituals around my creativity has allowed me to create a bond between me and my muse. And one of the most important rituals I have is letting go of things that no longer serve me.
Fears, doubts and excuses, like "I'm not good enough," "I can't do this," "It's too late for me," "There's not enough time," or "My story sucks," are only there because you let them be. When you decide to let them go, they can never stand in your way again.
I did this recently. I actually wrote out two pages worth of excuses that I've made over the last 18-plus years as I've dreamed of writing and publishing a novel. And then I burned the list. Because I don't need those excuses anymore.
And neither do you.
Another ritual I have for releasing fear, doubt and excuses is keeping a crystal near me at all times. Then throughout the day, I pick the crystal up, hold it in my hands and say affirmative phrases to myself (or sometimes out loud): "I can do this," I'm a great writer," "my writing dreams are coming true."
It seems silly, but the more deliberate you are about crafting the mood and energy you want for your life, the easier it will be for you to make your writing dreams happen. 'Cause when you're feeling positive about your writing and yourself as a writer, it makes it easier to drop the Resistance and show up to the page.
Take Action: Write down all the fears, doubts and excuses that get in the way of you doing the writing, then shred it, tear it up, burn it in the fireplace, get rid of it.
4. Acting "As If" (Ritual)
As writers, we're used to playing in imagined worlds and creating optimal situations and scenarios. And when we bring that imagination to our reality, we can shift everything.
Acting "as if" means pretending you already have the thing that you want. It means doing the things you would do or be doing if your dream already came true.
For example, if you were already a bestselling novelist, how would you treat your writing? Would you put it off all the time or would you sit down every day and write? How would you talk to people? Where would you spend your efforts online--playing on Facebook or spreading the word about your novel?
I've found acting "as if" to be one of the most powerful rituals in existence. Whenever I spend my time acting as if I my writing dream has already come true, magic happens.
By doing this consistently, I took a novel I'd been working on for two-plus years and got it ready for publication in three short months.
Take Action: think about your writing dream, and then make a list of all the things you'd be doing or how you'd act if your dream already came true. Start taking action on these things now, like your dream is already a done deal.
5. Amping Up My Mindset (Ritual)
This is the little-known success secret that people rarely talk about. But mindset is everything.
Writers are coming from thousands of years of programming: negative patterns, bad habits and limited beliefs.
We've been told since the beginning of our lives that "writers are poor" or "writers are addicts" or "you can't make money from writing." And this starving artist mentality is doing nothing to push us forward as a community.
All this programming does is keep you stuck, scared and playing small. I say to hell with that.
I'm a writer. I came here to show up, shine and make a difference with my words.
To do that, you have to get your mind in the right place. You'll never achieve your writing dream if you don't truly believe that you can, or if you don't believe you deserve it. You can't be a bestselling author if in your heart of hearts you think it's not possible for you.
Of course it's possible. Anything is. But you have to want it bad enough to force yourself to believe it into existence.
Mindset is something I work on constantly. I have daily rituals and practices that I do to keep my mindset where it needs to be.
Some of these include the aforementioned things (releasing fears, doubts, excuses, and acting "as if"). And I also do Morning Pages and meditate to help keep my mind focused in the right place.
Take Action: Grab a piece of paper and create two columns by drawing a line down the center vertically. In the left column make a list of all the negative, limiting beliefs you have about being a writer or about what's possible for your writing career. Then in the right column, write the opposite of each thing you listed in the left column. For example, if you wrote "No one in my family has ever been successful in a creative pursuit before," in the right column you would write, "There's a first time for everything."
The right column is your new normal. Believe it and don't stray from that thought.
What rituals and routines do you use to help you get your writing done?
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is an author, award-winning blogger, and story coach who helps serious emerging novelists write, revise and launch their books. Her debut novel, SoundCheck, comes out on June 16. Want to know if your story idea is any good? Grab her free eCourse: Does My Story Suck? (And How To Make It Better If It Does)