Finding a Writing Rhythm

Do you have shortbread cookies in your pantry?

I know.

What do shortbread cookies have to do with writing, right?

Actually, everything.

Here’s the thing. Most likely, you don’t have shortbread cookies in your pantry. But you do have what it takes to make them: eggs, sugar, and flour, ingredients most of us already have in our kitchens.

The same is true of writing.

It may feel as if we don’t have what it takes to write regularly, but when the layers are pulled back, the truth is that most of us do have what it takes to make a successful rhythm of writing.

In the same way a basic recipe for shortbread cookies calls for three ingredients, here are three ways to navigate through finding a simple writing rhythm that works for you.

  1. TIME
  • Are you a night owl or an early bird? Knowing and embracing the time of day when you’re at your best can inspire you to confidently and intentionally carve a few moments to devote to writing.
  • Set a timer for five minutes. If you really, absolutely need to wipe down the kitchen and declutter the table before you write, then do it. Set a timer and clean as much as you can. After five minutes, follow through on your commitment to write.
  • Don’t despise small windows of time. Carry a journal, or replace your Instagram app with the Notes app on your phone. If you have fifteen minutes to scroll on social media, then you have fifteen minutes to draft an outline for a blog post or jot down an idea for a book chapter.

2. TREATS

  • What fills your cup? Is it six scoops of Café Bustelo, brewed and poured out piping hot, sans cream and sugar? Is it hibiscus leaves steeped long and deep, spooned with thick, raw honey and spritzed with lime? Make it a practice, a habit of fixing up your favorite drink every time you go to write, until the two—your favorite drink and your writing—become inseparable.
  • Enjoy the process. Light a candle. Grab a blanket. Write from the sunniest window. Listen to that song on loop if it moves you to make words with all your heart and soul. Make writing an experience you can’t wait to repeat and return to. These small pleasures are the humble beginnings of mundane routines turned into writing rhythms.

3. TRUTH

  • Your rhythm isn’t going to look like hers. The frequency of your writing—every post and every publication—isn’t going to (and shouldn’t) look like anyone else’s.
  • Your rhythm isn’t going to look like last year’s. Maybe your job is asking more of you or your sleeping baby grew into a talking toddler. Whatever the change or shift, or loss, it might be time to release your grip on rhythms from past seasons. Acknowledge where and who you are now, and trust that you already have everything you need to make a writing rhythm that works for you.

More than putting together a perfect plan, finding and creating the right writing rhythm is about pulling together the puzzling pieces of your life and forming them together into a seamless pattern.

It’s relentlessly pursuing a routine of tossing together what few ingredients you already have, and believing there is always just enough time, enough incentive, and enough of you to create writing that is worth sharing with others.


Check out some of the best writing resources MIC has to offer:

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22 COMMENTS

  • Michelle Diaz

    Inspiring piece!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much, Michelle! Sending lots of peace and grace your way for whatever rhythms and routines you find yourself in right now!

  • Michelle Diaz

    Inspiring!

  • Jennifer Wright

    Simple truths that pave the way to consistent action! Thank you! (And now I’m off to make shortbread cookies)

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Yes, yes, yes—all so simple. And doable. And free! Anyone, anywhere, and anytime can do it! I sometimes have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to look like a $6 cappuccino and five hours spent in hipster cafes. Sometimes it’s a toddler’s nap-time with my straw in cup and favorite blanket…on repeat all week.

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you really made those cookies : )

  • Letoya

    This is why I joined indelible ink writers! Always a place of refreshing and relatable advice and encouragement for writing. I’ve never really had a rhythm per say, but would write when i felt i was inspired or just to cope really. Grateful for these tools to help with my consistency! Thanks as always Rae!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      I love your thoughts here! And you make a good point—I do believe there are different kinds and times for writing. Sometimes it’s by the moment, for the moment. And it really is to cope. To decompress. Or to process and work through something.

      And then there are times when we push forward in determination and discipline to write because something entirely different compels us. I think the motives and reasons differ from person to person. But, I also think it’s so powerful to consider why and how we write, and to be open to growing towards new ways of doing so.

      I always used to be a spur of the moment gal (and still liked to be). But, I’m learning that consistency is a good thing..and actually yields more of what I wish to create than if I were to just leave it to inspiration or impulse : )

  • Gigi

    I really enjoyed this practical list of how we can find a rhythm to our writing. As a member of the Indelible Ink writing group, it has really kickstarted my acceptance of being a writer. The hard part remains how to carve out that time for a “successful rhythm of writing”. I’m learning that my version of rhythm will be just right for me and releasing my “…grip on rhythms from past seasons” . Point number three about TRUTH was just that- TRUTH!

    Thank you for sharing this Rachel!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      I am so glad you found your way over here! And, I think you’re right. The first step really is acceptance. After that comes building the routine—living out what it looks like and actually means to be a writer. I hope that truth sinks in deep to the point of transformation for you. Accept that you are a writer, and embrace the season that you are writing in and from—then go! Go, go, go! Much love, Gigi : )

  • Aligna

    This is such great advice on creating a rhythm of writing and creating. Love it!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Aligna, thank you! I hope you get some time this season to look into the current rhythms and routines you’re in. Hoping for good writing to come as a result of it! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Sonya

    Beautifully said. We live in the midst of so many excuses. But ultimately, ever minute of time is ours to waist and cherish. Thank you Rachel for your words and encouragement as always. So glad to have met you through Indelible Ink.

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Oh, Sonya! You of all people, I’m sure, felt every bit of these words. Even more, you of all people are an example of this very truth. Being a nurse and a writer is tough, but you balance it well with grace and in your own unique way. I’m thankful for you, too, and excited to see what lies ahead as you continue to press into your writing, whatever the season!

  • Kayla

    Love your heart, words and indelible ink writers!! Cool metaphor with the cookies, I didn’t know shortbreads only use three ingredients. How cool! Focusing on what we do have vs what we don’t.

    Simplicity, contentment, and creativity.

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Ahh, thank you! Yes—it’s crazy how simple it is to write. Less about perfection, more about perspective..And for the shortbread cookies, yes! Only three ingredients, unless of course you’d like to jazz it up with sweets and things. Like lemon and lavender. That’s my favorite to toss in : )

  • Alesha

    This is amazing advice! I love the idea of making a favorite drink when writing and making it a time to enjoy. I’m really good at scratching out paragraphs or outlines in my notes app to save for later, but I dread sitting down to finish them. This is the perfect motivation! Thanks!
    Btw, I found this post through Indelible Ink Writers! Thanks Rachel!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Alesha — I’m so with you! It’s hard going back to those scratchy ideas and wrestling with them until they have form and meaning. I think that is where finding a routine (in deeper ways than we realize) comes in handy. The more we return to our writing, the more we exercise discipline and focus. In general, but also with those specific pieces. It’s like putting a puzzle together — it requires the persistence to envision the end of it with depth and clarity. This is a good, but hard, practice. Nevertheless, worth it. I’m in a wave of finding new writing routines myself. So know you’re not alone!

  • Terri Thompson

    Thank you for these foods. I’ve been writing a long time and still find routine difficult. I especially like the idea of having my favorite drink each time I write. I often do that anyway. I also like a certain sweater that makes me feel cozy. At least when I lived in a cold climate.

    I found this blog from the My Influence e-newsletter.

    Thanks

    • Terri Thompson

      That was supposed to say “Thank you for these tips.”. LOL

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Terri! I am so sorry this reply is just now coming, didn’t see your comment come through until just recently : ) I hope you’ve been able to take that tip and use it! I’m a tea drinker, but since writing up this piece I’ve gone back to the dark side of brewing and drinking coffee. I think the routine, being a little bit more involved (and aromatic!), has helped bring some newness to my rhythm. It really does help…So glad to have found you—hope to hear from you again!

  • Lamar Gibbs

    This is such a helpful piece Rachel! I love the pleasant reminders that we have what we need in order to get where we’re going.

    It’s all about changing the way we see what we have. As a member and admin of Indelible Ink, I’ve truly gained an appreciation for this, and continue to work at displaying what this piece is communicating. Love it!

    • Rachel Kang
      AUTHOR

      Yes, Lamar! Thank you, brother! I’m so glad for you to take to heart this reminder. You are such an example of someone who is faithful with what he has….with eyes peering toward the future. Keep it up!

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