3 Things to Do When Your Routine Is Broken

Saturday, March 20, 2021
A broken routine can yield...
Every morning at 6 am you sit down and write. The kids aren’t up yet. Your spouse is in the shower. You have thirty minutes to put down words. You’ve been doing it for months. But today the words won’t flow. You have the same problem the next day and the next. 

Or you’re working on your latest assignment. You list what needs to go into the article. You rough the body, then the conclusion, and last you write the intro. This is how you’ve done it for years. But this time the piece is not taking shape. Your thoughts are scattered. 

... something new and amazing.
Fortunately there are three things you can do to solve just about any writing problem. 

Step Back from Your Routine 

I always remind my students that what worked on your last book, or even your last ten books, may not work on this one. Sometimes it is the project that demands a new approach. Other times, your energy or environment have changed. Because of these changes, what worked before no longer works. This means your writing routine will also have to change. Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources for you to draw on and you’ll find them by . . . 

Talking to Your Fellow Writers 

Sioux recently posted about our accountability group. One of the great things about the group is that we write different things, live in different places (except Sioux and I who live in the same city), and have different backgrounds. If I’m stuck I can message the group and someone will have a suggestion. 

When I commented on my inability to outline my story beats. Renee pointed out that I’m visual and should try a physical set of cards, or colorful post-it notes, vs working on my computer. Given my love of color and the fact that I bead, knit, crochet and weave, I should have been able to figure this out for myself. But I was hung up on how I usually do things. Talk to your fellow writers. Someone who isn’t stuck in your rut will almost certainly have a great idea. 

Be Willing to Improvise 

Whether we are talking about your writing routine or your actually writing, improvisation is often key. What works for Sioux works for Sioux. Renee’s perfect routine is perfect for Renee. But elements of both can be combined in a new way to create a new routine for me. The important thing is that I keep trying new things until I find something that works. 

And when it stops working, I know what to do. I’ll talk to my fellow writers. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 5, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  April 5, 2021). Her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on June 7, 2021).


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--First of all, over 27 books? That is amazing. It's not only incredible because you wrote and edited and revised that many books, but you also hustled and found projects/publishers for those 27 books. THAT is the most amazing part, in my opinion.

I'm frequently reminded of the Beatles' song, "With a Little Help From My Friends." So much of writing depends on the help of colleagues. Help with a title. Help with revising. Help with writing ideas. The list goes on...

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Sioux,
Yep, over 27. But I didn't come up with the ideas for all of those. Often it was my publisher.

No matter how you look at it, a successful writing career is a team effort. And I'm thrilled to be part of your team!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Yes Sue, 27 books(and counting) is amazing. What an accomplishment. And these were great tips.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Jeanine,
Thank you! I've been lucky to find recurring gigs.

Renee Roberson said...

First of all, thanks for the shout out! I love giving other people advice, even if I'm usually the last person to follow my own. I've had some issues with my "routine" this week so I found your post helpful. For me, it's been good to accept that my anxiety and stress are flaring up this week and since I don't have any set deadlines, go with the flow for a few days. Now that I've done that, I'm itching to get back to some creative work!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I'm so glad that you could give yourself the time and space to settle!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Talk to other writers! I don't know why I have to be terribly stuck and pulling my hair out before I think of this, Sue. :-) But it ALWAYS works, and thanks for the reminder!

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