It can take years to develop a solid writing routine. Perhaps we find we can only write at the crack of dawn, or in the dark of night, or in the hum of a local cafe; perhaps we finally realize we need a home office with few distractions to hit our daily word count. But when we face a major life change – when we take a new job, start a longer commute, take on a caregiving role, or have children – all our carefully developed routines can go right out the window.
What’s a writer to do when our two-hour writing window becomes a 2-minute one? How can we cope when our creativity seems to run dry and our doubts run rampant?
Instead of focusing on how your new creative life differs from the last, embrace the writing season you’re in, suggests Nicole Gulotta in Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path. “I’m convinced embracing a seasonal approach to your creativity can change everything, because it roots you to your own innate rhythms in a way our social media–fueled, busy-as-a-badge-of-honor culture does not,” she writes. “I find nurturing a sustainable writing practice is a gentler way to honor the year of work it takes to create almost anything worthwhile. Although it doesn’t always eliminate moments of doubt, days of distractions, or challenges brought on by unforeseen causes, it does give our experiences a name. We can point to it. There, I see you, we say. Let’s work through this together.”
Each chapter in Wild Words covers a different season, from “The Season of Beginnings” and “The Season of Self-Doubt” to “The Season of Retreating” and “The Season of Finishing.” Gulotta pairs her own experiences with guides and exercises for the reader called “Rituals and Routines.” Topics range from juggling writing with parenting young children and learning to seize small bits of time for writing to preparing for author events and designing a DIY writing retreat.
“What I’m here to tell you is that if you wish to write, you can. (Most likely, you must,)” Gulotta writes. “The work will probably take longer than you want it to. You’ll be forced to make decisions about how you spend your time. You’ll have fewer opportunities to binge-watch Netflix shows, for one. But there’s room in this world for your stories, and we need them.”