I’ve been emphasizing the value of a schedule, of a regular commitment to writing. One more quote to bolster that:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.” — Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life
What’s my routine? After decades working as a lawyer in firms and courts, now that I’m pretty much writing fulltime, I still keep office hours. Ideally, I’m “on the page” — that is, writing or editing — by 8:30, sometimes 9:00. I work until just after noon, eat lunch, and tackle promotion and writing business, along with personal stuff, in the afternoons. When I’m researching, or pondering, scouting the world and my brain for the story, that can get thrown off. I don’t make appointments on Mondays unless absolutely necessary, so I can start the week focused and protect my time.
Your life is probably more complicated than mine, but think about your schedule, a routine you can create and keep. Protect it. Honor it, and your creative spirit will shine. I promise.
You’ve all heard me talk about intentional creativity and the importance of making a commitment to do the work, whatever your work is. It’s easy to start the year excited about our creative plans, but sometimes we need a little help making them become reality.
That’s where a creative routine comes in. As my writer pal Mark Hummel, who also writes as Mark Leichliter, says,
“The trick is to put writing first even if it isn’t literally the first thing you do, and if it’s not, then creating a ironclad routine to which you adhere . . . That can be to write an hour before bedtime or for half an hour in your car at lunch, a set number of pages produced while hiding out in your secretive place so that you can be undisturbed. Whatever it is, I am convinced that routine matters.”
Some people say you have to write every day. You don’t. It’s ideal, but life isn’t always like that. I wrote my first three manuscripts on Fridays, because that was the time I had. My muse, or creative voice, or subconscious, showed up and we did the work–because she knew I would be there, sitting in my office in the back bedroom of a little white stucco farmhouse at the foot of the Mission Mountains.