Twelve days ago, I started a new book and made it my goal to sit down first thing every the morning and write 1000 words. No fewer, because I want to see progress. No more, because I don’t want to get all fired up, write 10,000 words in a day and then lose all my enthusiasm for weeks (which might have happened once or twice).

I’m experimenting with rituals to keep myself focused and to prioritize my writing time.

My rituals aren’t complicated but they make writing less about willpower (“Must … write … 1000 … words!”) and more about habit. Before I start—always at 9 am when I get home from dropping my kids off at school and always at the same spot in the kitchen—I completely clear off and wipe down the counter before opening up my laptop on it. It removes distractions and gives me the feeling of a fresh start. I set a timer and get to work. When I’m done, I turn off the timer and get myself a cup of tea or a piece of fruit.

It’s so simple that it sounds a little pretentious to call it a “ritual,” but it’s been a very powerful way to stay consistent with my work. If you’re struggling with maintaining a writing habit, it’s worth experimenting with rituals. Your rituals can be practical, such as turning off your phone and internet connection, aesthetic (lighting a candle), or spiritual (saying a prayer). Keep them simple (the list below is just a few suggestions—don’t try to do all of them) and see what works for you.

Rituals for writing

  • Working in the same place at the same time very day
  • Tidying or dusting your workspace
  • Turning off your phone and internet connection
  • Meditating for a few minutes before you start
  • Lighting a candle
  • Making yourself a special cup of tea or coffee
  • Saying a prayer or affirmation
  • Setting a timer
  • Playing music (the Focus@Will app plays music designed to help you work better).

Then …

  • Turning your timer off
  • Recording your word count
  • Making a back up of your work
  • Turning your internet and phone back on
  • Blowing out your candle, shutting off your music
  • Rewarding yourself with a small treat

I wrote my 12,006th word this morning, right on track. Let me know what rituals you use when writing. Please let me know below what works for you.