5 lessons learned from a daily writing routine

I made a resolution just over a month ago.kd smith-writing routine-calendar

The goal was simple. Write 20 minutes a day, every day, for the month of January. My resolution was inspired by an article, a blog post that had made the suggestion. Though I’m a copywriter who writes for clients for a living, I was feeling a loss from never finding time to write for myself. So I determined to meet the challenge.

I was intrigued by the blog’s suggestion of committing to a brief period of time each day. It seemed a realistic goal, and one I felt sure I would gain from.

How did I fare?

I did not, I confess, manage to write each day. There were the occasional gaps, along with some struggles to find my footing with the task. But I did keep the effort up throughout the month and – without hesitation – look on the exercise as fruitful. I think my writing skills have improved, even in these few brief weeks. And I learned a few things – some new, some simply reinforced – worth sharing.

Lessons learned from a writing routine


  1. It was no great surprise that when sitting down to the effort rushed and unfocused, it was, more often than not, a rather wasted 20 minutes. “Because I have to” often led to spewing not much more than gibberish on to the page. I fared much better on days when I started my writing time with a sense of purpose. Lesson One: Come to your daily writing focused and with clear intent.
  2. At the same time, waiting for inspiration could mean the task never got done. There were days when I was at a complete loss, without a single thought as to what to write about. Yet the act of simply starting, putting something – anything – down sometimes led to surprising results. And a little exercise is better than none, is it not? Lesson Two: Just write. Whatever it takes, just write.
  3. Despite my best intentions, the later it got in the day before I started the timer, the less inclined I was to accomplish my writing goal. Moving forward, I hope to schedule a regular time to write, to perhaps even mark it on my calendar – like an appointment or class to be kept. For me, it’s best to write earlier in the day, before other demands take over. Lesson Three: Determine your best writing schedule – and schedule it.
  4. The pull of social media, the urge to check emails is incredibly strong and seductive when sitting at the computer, and often usurped the time I intended to write. I took to setting a timer for those activities as well, to afford at least equal writing time. Lesson Four: Just say no to distractions to your writing time.
  5. However successful or not I was at writing every day, I still wrote more than I ever have. So I feel I totally won. When I wasn’t actually writing, I was often thinking about it. (OK, sometimes in guilt, but I felt more immersed in and aware of the act, the craft, then ever before.) Lesson Five: Writing begets writing.

I give myself a B+. For a good, solid effort and lessons learned this past month. And I aim to keep my daily writing ritual up – one month at a time – to continue to sharpen and improve my writing skills, to explore and experiment, to flex my writing muscles in a way that “writing for hire” doesn’t allow for in quite the same way.

Did you make a similar resolution and, if so, how is it going? Oh, and one more lesson. It’s never too late to begin a daily writing routine.