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Over the past month, I have been transitioningto a new post-doc position at New England Biolabs. This transition from Colorado to Massachusetts has been good, but it involved a lot of time spent coordinating movers, leases, and flights. And in the midst of all the chaos, I decided to finally start posting to Write Like A Scientist after months of planning. That was a crazy idea, because the move completely disrupted my writing routine. As my official move date got closer, I completely stopped writing.
I have been in Massachusetts for 2 weeks and at my new position for 1 week. As I am getting settled, I am focused on setting up a sustainable writing practice/routine. I have found the following 5 things to be crucial in establishing a new writing routine after moving across the country.
1. Be Flexible
The number one thing to keep in mind as you are trying to set up your new writing routine is that things are not going to be the same as they were. With almost all facets of my life feeling tumultuous, the same writing time/space doesn’t necessarily work day to day.
One of the things that I have already learned is the way I had scheduled my days (using my beloved Day Designer) during my PhD is not working. My new position has me utilizing the Outlook calendar. My new way of scheduling will likely be digital. If you have daily scheduling or task management apps that you really like, please comment below!
2. Set Weekly Writing Goals
When I moved, I also lost my writing group. After being a member of one for years, I have come to realize how dependent I am on weekly goal setting. Starting this week, I am going to be writing down my weekly goals where I can see them everyday. Until I find/form a different writing group, I am going to keep a writing journal . I will write my goals each week as well as reflect on my previous weeks goals. To meet the goals that I set, I am going to need to develop a daily writing practice.
3. Find Your New Writing Space
I talked about creating your ideal writing space a few weeks ago. A move to a new house, even if it is in the same town, requires finding or creating new writing space. As you are setting up your new house, you can create a whole new writing space. Maybe know you finally have space for a desk, or can find a place in a quiet corner. To me, this is one of the most exciting parts about moving.
Currently, my belongings have not yet joined me in Masachusetts so I am having fun exploring different writing spaces. I have found quite a few potential places to write at my new job, including at my desk! The desk during my PhD was in the lab where it was typically too loud and full of distractions for writing. Outside of work, my apartment complex has a clubhouse with quiet desk areas. The more that I look around, the more I see potential writing spaces. Of course once my desk arrives, I will also set up a writing space at home.
4. Make Time To Write Everyday
Even though, I am just starting my position and adjusting to things, it is important that I make time to write everyday. Even if I focus for only 15 minutes on writing, I consider that a success. I know privileging my writing time now will make it easier to expand the amount of time I dedicate to writing easier. As I mentioned before, I haven’t figured out how to schedule my days, but I do make sure to write everyday. Sometimes, I have to take time after dinner because my day is so hectic, but I am still getting my writing in. There have been days where I did not make time to write, and that is okay. I just start again the next day and continue to try my best.
5. Try Something New
The really fun part about moving is the opportunities for new habits and routines abound. Gretchen Rubin (author of “The Happiness Project“) call this the Clean Slate Strategy. When a routine changes is the easiest time to add in new habits or get rid of bad habits. If you strive to write in the morning, set up that habit as soon as you move or go through a big life change. After a few weeks of forcing yourself to get up, you will (hopefully) find that writing in the morning is just what you do.
How I Am Getting Back Into A Writing Routine After Moving
I briefly touched on these things above, but for the sake of accountability (for myself), I am going to write out how I am going to follow these five tips. Maybe this will give you some ideas about how you can begin a new writing routine or freshen up your current routine.
- There is nothing in particular that I am doing to be flexible, but I am going to be open to new strategies and ideas to help improve my practice. In the next few weeks, writing in spaces that are not ideal is going to be a necessity.
- I am going to try to focus my writing journal on weekly goals until I find a new writing group. I may also post my writing goals by my desk so that others can see. This will definitely make me more accountable.
- In addition to creating or finding a writing space at home, I am excited to explore my building and see if I can find a place where I am able to focus. I think finding this space is going to become super important as I begin to write more and more.
- Making time to write everyday has been hard, but I am trying to squeeze a little time, even if it is just 15 minutes, for writing into everyday. I am thinking over the next week or two, it will get easier to make time to write daily.
- One of the habits that I really want to try to incorporate is to read one academic paper every weekday morning. My idea is to find a paper before I leave work the previous day and have it downloaded or printed for when I arrive. I want to do a better job of consistently reading the literature, and I think that this will help. Hopefully it will also help me to transition into the workday easier.
Are you going to try any of these tips to establish your writing routine after moving? Or maybe to revamp an existing writing routine?