Tag Archive for: writing rituals

Remember at the beginning of the year when I changed some of my daily goals to better align with my writing priorities? Yeah, that was a rough transition. I spent a lot of January ducking my head and saying, “what daily writing goals?” But I’m happy to report that in May, I wrote something on my novel every day. The moral of the story is: writing habits take time.

Two hands holding up an orange alarm clock while demonstrating that writing habits take time to build!

Photo by Malvestida on Unsplash

Lots of people expect that once they decide to do a thing—write a novel, write every day, write 1K words every time they sit down— they’ll be able to just do it. But making the plan is not the same thing as executing the plan. Building a regular writing habit (no matter what it is) can be a struggle and take time to develop. But you can make it easier if you keep a few things in mind.

Acknowledge the Struggle

The first thing you need to do is appreciate that building a writing habit can be hard. Even if it starts as a breeze, it’s easy to hit a wall once life gets more complicated, or you have a day in which you struggle to motivate or create. The habit part of a writing habit comes when you can work around most obstacles and still do the work you intend to do.

(Skipping a day on purpose is not a failure. Skipping a day on accident likely means you still have habit building to do. Which is respectable! Just keep at it.)

Reward Hard Work

Reward yourself when you follow through with your plan. Check it off on a to-do list, give yourself a sticker, tell a friend or social media—just reward yourself and celebrate every time you perform the task you planned.

You may think, “all I did was write 100 words on my novel, lots of writers do that.” Yes, but lots of writers DON’T. Lots of writers let other things stand in the way of their words, and you didn’t today. YOU wrote and did the writing you intended. That deserves more acknowledgement than you think.

Stay Flexible

You may find the habit you planned doesn’t fit your life and you need to make adjustments—or make adjustments for now and build the more time-consuming habit in a year when other responsibilities shift.

Stay flexible with yourself and be ready to change your plan with grace. Remember, the writing habit has to fit your life, not the other way around.

Writing Habits Take Time

Building writing habits take time, so give yourself the grace to build at your own pace. There’s no one timeline; there’s no expectation of results. There is you and the habit you want to build. You can make changes to your plan, give yourself days off, or do whatever else you need to make a writing habit that sticks. But trust that it takes time and it’s not all or nothing.


Habits, not heartbreak. That’s the main thing you should remember while you build writing habits. It’s going to take time, it’s sometimes going to be hard, but it shouldn’t break your heart. If it is: adjust! You’re doing this for yourself and while it might not be easy, it shouldn’t be painful.



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For the first time since I started posting The Write Life, I’m struggling with what to say. July has been a particularly difficult month. I’ve been grappling with feelings of isolation and loneliness, a decrease in creativity, and generally the suffocation of being hemmed in (which would have nothing to do with quarantine, am I right?). My focus has been drifting and I’ve had to consciously capture and cultivate it to get anything done.

Which is part of the reason I’ve been drinking a lot of tea.

I’ve read much advice over the years about writing rituals and how to use those rituals to trigger a mental shift to a writing mindset. While my rituals have remained fairly sparse, in this troubling time, I have absolutely embraced the ritual of making tea.

Before I sit down to write, I make a cup of tea. Preparing it occupies my hands, and then I have a few minutes to think while it steeps. I’ve been using that time to start planning what I’m going to write. I daydream what comes next, play with dialogue exchanges, or noddle over where to fit in some description. (Sometimes I have to grab my phone to capture something, which means, hey, I already started writing!) As preparation goes, it’s been a huge help in focusing my thoughts so I’m ready to write by the time I sit down in front of the computer.*

To deepen this idea of ritual—of linking making tea to preparing to write—I’ve also started reserving teas to drink only (or at least primarily) when I’m writing certain things.

  • When writing steampunk? Of course, that means it’s time to drink Harney & Sons Victorian London Fog.
  • To balance out dark, angsty writing, I go for the soft citrusy taste found in the Luther Hargreeves fandom blend from Adagio.
  • When I’m writing something light and carefree, or more comedic, I snuggle up with the Bucky Barnes fandom blend from Adagio. (Which I keep saying tastes like pre-war coziness, pal-ing around New York City with Steve Rogers.)
  • I’ve even got a go-to tea for editorial work, specifically Adagio’s Chocolate Chip. Oh yeah, this tea making thing has extended beyond writing rituals and has become essential for any kind of focused work.

Am I still struggling with isolation, loneliness, and all those other things? Heck yeah. But at least I have tea and I can cling to this small joy while still forcing myself to get some work done.

*Most days. Some days there’s still a struggle and I have to utilize one of my other focusing activities.



For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.