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Write On! Features: The Write Mentality – Does One Size Fit All? By Palak Tewary and Juneha Chowdhury

by Palak Tewary and Juneha Chowdhury
Originally published as The Big Debate in issue 7 of Write On!

Palak Tewary and Juneha Chowdhury explore writing routines, discussing which approach is most likely to maintain a healthy, hopeful attitude to our writing.

Whether it’s an article, a blog or a book, there’s no denying that writing requires discipline to get it done. Like a game, rules are needed to ensure you win and, like a lesson, plans and structure must be in place so you can meet your objectives. Most writers would agree that having a routine – a set time to sit in front of the computer, or with a notebook – is critical. Only then can the ‘magic’ happen. But having a rigid, fixed approach and pushing ourselves through the pain to write, no matter what, is not necessarily the best way forward either. Creative potential can’t ever be completely defined! Instead of forcing the issue, therefore, is it better to coax our minds, doing little things more specific to our individual creative needs? In other words, taking a more flexible approach to our writing?

Ernest Hemingway once said: “I write every morning.” And, like him, many famous authors: E. B. White, Maya Angelou and Khaled Hosseini, to name but a few, follow a strict routine for writing. It doesn’t matter if there is a difficult scene to write and we’re just not in the mood, or if there is not one word that comes to mind; it’s about sitting down at our usual time and writing whatever comes to us. It can always be edited later. We might write ‘stuff’ we’ll eventually throw away, but the idea is that the process itself is the trigger for our creative juices.

Like any job, writing is work. It’s not about the right mood, or that imaginative spark. Rather, it’s something that just needs to get done, with deadlines and word counts clamouring to be met. Anything else, including phones, music and social media, are distractions. If we let them into our workspace, we’ll end up losing precious time.

A fixed routine also means writer’s block, already seen by some as a myth, is consigned to the bin. If our time is limited, we’re more likely to just sit down and write. Creating this kind of routine means we limit our procrastination time by default. Typically, this kind of approach is defined by goal-setting (word count or time spent) and a definite writing space.

Most writers would agree, though, that forcing a time frame can sometimes feel like a tick-box exercise. Shower. Breakfast. Writing. This transactional approach can have a limiting impact on our creative potential.

So, how do we marry the two: creating a routine that is strong enough to avoid procrastination, but flexible enough to be tailored to our writing needs? It’s about adapting the routine into a ritual especially suited to us.

It’s no secret, for example, that JK Rowling spent hours in a café trying to write the first drafts of her Harry Potter novels while her older children were at school and her youngest slept in the pram. Coffee shops provided her with the ambience she needed for writing.

On days where the thought of sticking to a rigid routine becomes overwhelming, it’s therefore worth considering what activities we might need to coax us in the right direction. Listening to songs or watching funny videos on You Tube aren’t necessarily just about timewasting, but can actually inspire. Even making that clichéd cup of tea can help get us in the mood!  And when it seems that nothing will spark inspiration, it’s sometimes worth just giving ourselves permission to switch off completely. The flexibility and distance from the writing schedule might help us refocus, creating a clearer perspective and allowing for a stronger comeback the next day.

Regular stints don’t work for everyone and writing to hit a target word count can be counterproductive (excuse the pun!). We are people, not abacuses. Counting beads is sometimes just counting beads and, even if we do it lots, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve achieved anything. More importantly, forcing ourselves to write rubbish, simply because it is part of a fixed routine, can make us feel rubbish. Surely that’s counterproductive; affecting not just our writing, but our mental health also?

Ultimately, every writer is different. For some, a daily grind will work, while, for others, following their intuition will produce results. Writing is an emotional investment. Since our emotions are infinite, we can’t impose the same kind of limits on them as we do on a spreadsheet. As human beings, we function differently, in tune with our own rhythm and beat, which is why one size will never fit all. Having the courage and the confidence to choose a routine that will give us the framework we need for discipline, but the ‘kindness’ we need to create, is therefore key in maintaining a healthy and hopeful relationship with our writing.

It seems only fitting to come back to Ernest Hemingway: “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Top Tips:
  • Work out what you need to create your best work
  • Work out what your key distractions are
  • Create a routine and place to write
  • Accept both place and routine may change
  • Accept you will need time off
  • Create an overall goal, but be flexible around the stages needed to get there


Connect with Palak Tewary on or through X & Instagram: @palaktewary

Connect with Juneha Chowdhury at: and on X: @junehachowdhury


Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets. You can find previous editions of our magazines here.

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There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly. Sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.