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Our self-talk is important and writers have a very particular way of speaking to themselves. The words we direct towards ourselves when we fail to put pen to paper are a long way from the ones we would choose after running out a gallon of ink.

If you wrote a column of words for when you haven’t written, adjectives like “lazy,” “unguided,” and “useless” might face an opposing column like “happy,” “creative,” and “surprising.”

In truth, we writers are in control of this self-talk and very little else. If we remove the conflict of self from our writing routine, we are free to let our creative self take over and make the art that our critical self will later edit and evaluate.

The relationship we have with our writing life informs our mental health. The better that relationship is, the more creative we are. Many encourage a daily routine, such as the Julia Cameron’s “morning pages” in The Artist’s Way, or local writer and friend of the collective Paulette Perhach’s “aimless engagement” in Welcome to the Writer’s Life.

The war we are at is not with our creative selves for not producing. It is the fight we have with our critical selves for not yet producing. If we can quell this nagging doubt with routine, the creative mind is free to play and create.

If you’re trying to improve your writing routine, the setting of patterns can be more helpful than measuring productive output. If you sit with a journal and a pen for one hour without producing anything, you have still managed to stick to a creative routine. You thought about writing for an hour! If you string enough hours together of thinking with a journal in front of you, your creative mind will find it more comfortable as a place to come out and play and that is when we produce our best work.