Reinventing Writing Routines for a Full-time Job

It’s been a while since I had a full-time job (other than writing and answering to myself).  Today marks the beginning of week 4 at the new job.  Guess how much writing I’ve managed to get done during the weekdays. 

A grand total of 15 minutes, and it wasn’t even sustained writing. It was brainstorming for reorganizing events in book 2 of my Chimera Moon series. It’s time to change that.

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It is such a staggering drop in my writing time. I need to create a new routine for myself.  I need a routine that fits into a full-time employed person’s schedule.

Where to even begin?  By researching, of course.  Ye Old Google and YouTube are both great resources for ideas and inspirations.

First, I need to establish what kind of writing time I can carve out for myself. 

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Should I wake up early or write in the evenings?  Or should I try and snatch the few moments in between classes and meetings?

As a night owl, the idea of waking up earlier to write in the morning just isn’t very appealing to me. But I will try it at some point. 

Since my classes only have 2 minutes in between them, and the meeting schedule is irregular, this doesn’t seem very conducive to building a reliable habit.

This leaves the evenings as my primary time to write.  If I am honest, that feels about right for my night-owl self.

Next, I need to set some realistic expectations.

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How much time am I actually going to be able to carve out of my schedule for writing?  I still have to do all the normal things like eat, shower, speak to my family, and sleep.  Outside of those human obligations, I also will have tasks to complete for my teaching job (grading, creating materials, prepping lessons, etc.). 

I have may have an hour or two (max) to myself each weekday night in which I can write.  I’ll be setting my expectations to an hour to start with.  This way, I can begin to establish the start time and build a dedicated habit. Once the habit is established, then I can begin to expand to an hour and a half or two hours, depending on how ambitious I am feeling at the time.

Building a sustainable routine is necessary.

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This routine can’t be a quick sprint.  Even if I finish the draft of the current work in progress (WIP), there are still several rounds of editing it needs to go through. The routine needs to allow me to write regularly over the entire academic year, not just for a week or a month.

Once the evening writing habit has been established, if I find that a two-hour session is cutting into my sleep time too much, then I will need to cut back to an hour and a half. 

Additionally, I plan on attempting a morning routine in the future as well. I will then compare the productivity levels between the two and see which one is more feasible for the long-haul.

Ideally, it would be wonderful to have both a morning and evening routine for writing, but I am not expecting this to happen overnight, or even within this year.

Here’s what my evenings will look like (ideally):

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1 Hour of Writing Time Schedule

5:00 – 7:00 – Cook, Eat dinner, & Clean dishes

7:00 – 8:00 – Grade/School Prep

8:00 – 9:00 – Write

9:00 – 9:30 – Get ready for bed

9:30 – 10:00 Wind down reading

2 Hours of Writing Time Schedule

5:00 – 7:00 – Cook, Eat dinner, & Clean dishes

7:00 – 8:00 – Grade/School Prep

8:00 – 10:00 – Write

10:00 – 10:30 – Get ready for bed

10:30 – 11:00 Wind down reading

There are probably a few things that will change, or look slightly altered from the ideal schedule listed above. For instance, I am currently in the habit of taking a shower when I get home (thanks to the pandemic) before I cook/eat with my family. So these times might shift a bit if I continue to teach in person versus if our district winds up teaching virtually.

But that’s okay.  It will take time to create and adjust to the right routine which works for me. And it will take time for you as well.

I’ll do my best to update you next week on how well this schedule has turned out for me.