When I first started writing fiction, I spent tons of late nights and early mornings wrestling with my manuscript, slogging away in front of the computer, and obsessing over my word count.

I woke up feeling confused about my next steps as self-doubt crept in. I second guessed my decisions and felt like a fraud. Once anxiety took over, procrastination was quick to follow—which kept me in an unproductive cycle for months at a time.

None of that felt good, and more importantly, it was not the path to a successful business model. Even though writing fiction is emotional, I couldn’t get sucked into my feelings and day-to-day pain. I needed to produce consistently.

As I refined my system for consistent progress, I came up with three daily practices that are crucial to building a fiction writing business:

#1 – Record your progress in a journal.

For a long time, I recorded my progress in a spreadsheet and paid attention to word counts, time, and speed of writing. I was miserable! As useful as those metrics were, I never had the data I really needed, which was why I could write quickly one day and didn’t want to on others.

We are not machines, therefore any creative endeavor is heavily influenced by our day-to-day emotions. Once I started recording my progress in a journal, I was able to identify the underlying challenges I was facing, then take action so I could feel differently in the future.

This is something I still practice today, every day. Journaling not only keeps my emotions in check (particularly fears, self-doubt, and perseverating), it also helps me work out problems in my manuscript, become one with my characters and their emotions, and empty my mind of stress and overwhelm I’m facing.

#2 – Move, preferably outside.

Your creative well isn’t endless. You need to keep refilling it, and the best way to do that is to stay inspired.

Writers are naturally indoor types, but getting some daily exercise (even if it’s just a 30 minute walk) can do wonders for both your physical and emotional health. Our bodies are not meant to stay still, and when we move them, we clear toxins in our bodies and our minds.

Going outside will do even more, because nature is constantly changing. Inspiration requires stimulation—new things to notice about the world—and going outside is the best way I’ve found to stimulate the senses.

I honor myself with a daily walk in the mornings, where I can unwind my thoughts along with my muscles. Bonus: bring a cell phone with Evernote or a small notebook and pen so you can jot down any inspiration that spins free during that time.

#3 – Establish a writing block and protect it.

To make consistent progress, you have to work consistently on your project. Sounds obvious, right? But I’m surprised by how few writers do this—how many instead wait for lightning to strike, the moon to eclipse, and their sign to move into Saturn’s house before they can pull out their project and work on it.

The easiest way to combat the loophole of “I’ll get to it when I have time” is to set a daily time and do it. Start with five minutes a day (set an alarm on your phone) and force yourself to sit in front of the computer with your project open during those minutes. Don’t let yourself do anything else besides sit there in silence or work on your project.

One day, you will be bored enough to start; from there, you can increase the time to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, until you get that daily hour going.

There’s a ton you can do to optimize this time in the future. For now, it’s important to just have a writing block. You’ll be shocked by what a difference this makes.

My writing block is 1-5pm every single day. Yes, I miss it some days (weekends, especially), or I sometimes only complete 2 hours instead of four… but overall, I get a hell of a lot more writing done as the result of having that block.

BONUS: Eat healthier, sleep better.

This is a bonus, because these two are the easiest ways to influence the fuel that will drive your book project forward: your energy levels. Without question, the worse I eat or sleep, the worse my fiction writing block goes the following day.

I used to not care about this, but by making even a simple effort (for me, eating a salad for one meal a day and moving toward bed at 10:30pm) I have seen major results in my business and my stamina to do the writing block.

Final word

These are the 3 habits that have made a huge difference in my ability to produce good fiction content quickly. Are there any others you would add, that have worked for you?

5 thoughts on “3 Crucial Daily Routines For Fiction Writers

  1. 1. set goals 2. learn to say NO. 3. don’t watch TV 4. for me its hike or gardening as rewards 5. take breaks to love and hug those around you 6. keep working the day job at a happy high level

    1. +1 to not watching TV!

      Setting goals is a tricky one that works for some and not for others, in my experience. But I agree that you have to know what you are hoping to accomplish and give yourself a rough timeline to get there.

  2. I completes two new plays in 3.5 weeks. I’ll be submitting them for reading at a local theater I greatly respect. They may or may not bite. One could be a pilot for a family saga. I have dozens and dozens of Pillar of the Community type relatives who are nonetheless unusual and get themselves mixed up with famous people and/or big historic events, with repercussions on their emotional make up, their outlook on life and interior states. Starting with both my parents” rather dramatic stories of exile I can branch out to over a hundred cousins in various countries and of different classes. But I like telling the stories. I don’t like writing them down. My versions of the facts of the stories is 75-90% actual, The interior states of the people are from my imagination but spurred by a look or comment that made a deeply meaningful connection with me. I also get visited by dead relatives who seem to be having a great time and affectionately spoof me for my limited experience of “reality.”

    BUT so what. I am 74 and will be dead before getting these stories down.

    BUT I still haven’t completed the 3 plays I really want to write.

    BUT I am making steady progress on a novel that everyone likes the idea of/outline of. But I may be dead before finishing.

    WHY? I write every day, but not a great deal. Plus of course I write lots and lots of pretty good stuff that I come to realize does not belong in this novel (but could make a novel of their own). But will I live long enough, lol.?How do you solve that problem?

    Thanks for your great work in being of service to your writing colleagues. Doing nice for strangers is a very good deed indeed.

    1. John, sounds like you’ve made good progress. Good luck finishing the stories as you can!

      If I could give you extra years, I would! I think the only thing you can do is keep putting words down and prioritize your health and happiness. Don’t think about what you might miss, just try to appreciate the hours. Writers always have stories that they wish they could write before death. My goal is to die having gotten at least a few of my stories out into the world.

  3. #1, yes and no. It satisfies me to track my progress on a hard fact sheet, and it hurts me to see how i lost track on a day where i had absolutly no progress. Beside that i have an extra journal (paper in my case) where i track my emotional state and reflections on the writing session before. This helps me clear my mind and explore the inner work of the things i just wrote a little deeper. And make me more ready for the next session.

    #3 Beside a time i also use a word target. I have to hit this! If i am faster, great. If i am slower i will not stop until i hit this target. This way i have an accountable progress onto my target which satisfies me even more till now.

    Love your openess, you encourage me to be more open too!
    Thanks

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