What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about routines? Something boring, no doubt. Like waking up at six, or brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes after dinner each evening.

Did you know, though, that routines can be used to boost your creativity? If you can teach your brain that something repetitive happens right before something creative, you will soon be able to put yourself in the writing mood by something as simple as taking a sip of tea or a coffee.

You can, so to speak, condition yourself. You only need a unique cue and between twenty and sixty days of patience as you repeat the habit.

The cue needs to be unique, or the exercise won’t work. The good news is that you can use practically anything as long as you do it right before writing. Some examples:

  • Wearing specific attire, much like dressing for work
  • Smoking, or alcohol, if what you’re after is only a short-lived writing career
  • Coffee, given you don’t drink coffee in any other circumstances
  • Strange kinds of tea you won’t drink anywhere else. Lapsang Souchong is my writing tea. To quote senator Avasarala from The Expanse “It stinks like hobo’s feet.” (try pu-erh if you’d like something distinct but more agreeable to the nose)
  • A song you like, which never plays on the radio.
  • A walk. I’ll do a separate article on walks. But my god, walking does wonders for your creativity.

Writing is hard enough as it is, but no one stops you from cheating just a bit.

PS. Habits and creative rituals are a fascinating topic. You should check out the book The Atomic Habits by James Clear if you have the time.

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