Writing is a Bad Habit: Go With the Flow!

Today’s edition of Writing is a Bad Habit is going to be a fairly short but important one.  Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about work cycles.  Now, we all know what work cycles are: it refers to our overall preferred work habits and the hours we regularly keep writing.  Even though, for most of us, writing is a self-employed profession and not something we punch a clock for, it’s still important to maintain a work cycle.

Why is that?  Why shouldn’t we just write when we want to and slag off the rest of the time?  Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but all of the writers I know are only really productive when they keep themselves to a semi-regular schedule.  Yes, the freeform nature of writing lends itself to flexibility and I, like all of us, take advantage of that from time to time, but I still enforce a fairly strict schedule and workload.

People thrive on stability and structure makes workloads more stable.  Even on days we are feeling less than creative, when the Muses leave us, there are plenty of tasks involving our works that we can spend time doing.  Editing, proofreading, promotional work, blogging, fan outreach, all of that is an important part of the overall authorial career.  However, if we tie our work only to when our Muses are singing and the words pour out, it is far too easy to neglect all of those other important tasks.  That, my friends, is a recipe for failure.

What do you think?  Do you think keeping a steady work cycle is important?  If you do, what kind of cycle works best for you?  If not, has the lack of structure hampered your work in anyway or led to a lack of discipline?  Talk about it in the comments!



  1. “Flow” is an actual psychological function that corresponds to times of increased absorption, productivity, and enjoyment in a task. See “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience,” by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, for a fascinating study of how this works, and how we can make it work for us.

    Here is an excerpt from Encyclopaedia Britannica, about his work on creative genius:

    “The Hungarian-born American psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi depicted ways in which creativity and mastery of a domain relate to the development of genius. His study of eminent men and women showed how great creative achievement cannot exist without mastery of the skills and specific knowledge of a domain. These can be achieved only through excellent training and access to accomplished teachers and mentors. At the same time, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrated a link between creative genius and “flow,” a state of mind in which the creative individual experiences a sense of challenge, timelessness, and oneness with the work at hand. Finally, in studying the personalities of prominent individuals, Csikszentmihalyi identified common attributes in their psychological makeup. One such trait is autonomy, which is needed for working alone and for daring to express novel or divergent points of view. Another example is endurance, which involves an ability to persist, to complete tasks, and to follow through—a characteristic that all true geniuses seem to have.”


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