The other day, I put up a post on social media asking people for the best piece of writing advice they’d ever gotten. The answers were prime examples of why most people fail at starting a writing ritual.
One man said, “don’t read books.” When I asked him why he could possibly think that not reading was a good idea, especially if you wanted to be a writer, he replied with a stream of consciousness answer that lacked grammar, punctuation and sense.
Clearly that guy doesn’t read.
But as bad as that was, that still isn’t the worst piece of advice for writers out there.
Tell me if you’ve heard this advice: to be a writer, you must write every single day.
This also looks like:
- Touch your keyboard every day.
- Don’t let a day go by without writing.
- Write three pages every morning before breakfast.
The advice of “write every day” only sets you up for failure.
I get it, we’ve been told our whole lives that “healthy” habits are the key to success.
Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day so he had one less decision to make. Micheal Phelps eats the same thing every day before every race. Stephen King says he sits down to write every single day and doesn’t get up until he’s written thirty pages.
The advice around creating habits and routines all too often wreaks of privilege and doesn’t take into account those of us from historically marginalized, ostracized, and under-resourced communities.
It’s easier to stick to a habit when you don’t have chronic illness to manage, kids to care for, or systematic oppression to fight.
And even if you had all the money, time and privilege in the world, would you really want to do the same thing every single day?
My little foodie, fashionista, ADHD heart dies inside every time I think about that boring AF lifestyle.
Rigid routines kill creativity.
Strict writing routines:
- Set you up to fail.
- Punish you if you miss a day.
- Kill creativity by making you do the same thing at the same time every day.
Doing the same thing over and over again in an attempt to be more productive is a concept that comes out of industrialization, capitalism, and slavery practices.
Sure, you can bust out books like McDonald’s busts out Happy Meals, but I’d rather be a smash burger at the pub across the street from my house – something that takes a little longer but is worth the wait.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a late night Inn-N-Out run and have been known to devour romance novel series, no shade on busting something out quickly. But when you’re exhausted and creatively tapped out you want to focus on input not output.
Read that again:
When you’re creatively exhausted, you want to focus on input, not output.
Instead of focusing on doing more, more, more, and writing every single day, no matter what, you should be asking yourself what fills your creative bucket.
You need a writing RITUAL, not routine.
Rituals are different than routines, in that they:
- Are an act of spiritual connection.
- Spark creative ideas.
- Have ease, simplicity, and joy in doing it.
- Are abundant instead of rigid.
Some ideas for writing rituals include:
- Light a candle as you sit down to write.
- Go to the art museum with your journal.
- Walk in the park recording a voice memo of what you notice.
- Take yourself on a creative date to your favorite coffee shop.
- Read the Sunday paper.
Notice that these activities fill your creative bucket.
Notice they center being present in your body.
Notice how they feel so much more abundant and joyful than “write every day.”
Take out a piece of paper and answer these questions:
- What makes me feel creatively happy?
- How do I want to grow as a writer and creative being in the next 5 years?
- What does my soul want to share right now?
- What do I want to put out in the world next?
- What rituals would help me to make those dreams come true?
When you’ve got that down, reply to this post and let me know what comes up for you.
I’m excited to hear about your writing rituals.
Because the world needs your story now more than ever.