#Beattheblock: Tip 2 – Routine is your friend

Welcome back to#BeattheBlock

Today’s rule: Routine is your friend.

You read it all the time in writing advice blogs. Write for at least two hours a day. Cue delirious laughter. Yes thank you Mr King, might we remind you that you sit around all day and your day job is writing. Two hours a day to you is easy. I, however, am juggling family, a full time job, a blog, studying for an important qualification, an attempt at a social life and you know, sleep. I am lucky if I have ten minutes to throw together some food, nevermind block out two hours a DAY to write.

For most people, two hours a day is a pipe dream. Least it is for me. And the reason can be summarised in a nice, simple four letter word. Life. Life has this magical talent of getting in the way of a lot of things. Today’s advice is simple, embrace that. Don’t try and stop it getting in the way. You’ll end up stressed, everyone you know will hate you and when you take ten minutes to take stock, you’ll realise you’ve achieved even less than you had planned to in the first place. If you try and squeeze writing in whenever you have ten minutes, you’ll never find those ten minutes. Life will get in the way. It does that.

So have a routine. For some people its getting up an hour early (my idea of hell) to write for an hour before they get to work. For others I know, its blocking out Sunday afternoon (while the husband is watching the football and the kids are round at their friends). Me personally, it is my lunch hour. I plug myself in, get out a pen and paper and ignore everyone for an hour. (Fair warning, this option may result in your colleagues thinking you are a tad weird, what with the talking to yourself, miming out fight sequences and those few words they read over your shoulder that give them cause to worry about your mental state). But the point is, it happens every day. Everyone I work with knows that that is my writing time. And more importantly, so does my brain. Even if I sit there for the entire time on Pinterest looking at pictures of Colin O’Donoghue (hubba hubba) and calling it character research or just staring out of the window as I try to make sense of my latest plot disaster, it is progress. It is time my brain knows is dedicated to writing.

If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be waiting a long time. It is our excuse as writers. “Why haven’t you finished your book yet Maxi?” *shakes her head in sadness* “Writer’s block.” Writer’s block exists. I used to think it was a state of mind but it isn’t. Sometimes, you just get stuck. The problem I always had was getting unstuck. Not because there wasn’t a solution but because I never gave myself time to think myself out of my problem. If you have a routine, you don’t feel guilty when you do spend that hour just thinking. Sometimes as writers we need to get lost in our own minds. We need to dedicate the time to thinking around the block until we can see a new path. Sometimes thinking is the most productive thing we can do. So give yourself time to do it.