This post is earlier than you might expect, because Sarah asked me to cover for her while she’s on the road. It’s also later than you might expect because I forgot I said I would do it, despite writing it on the calendar. In true author fashion, I remembered my promise at three in the morning, after being jolted awake by a cricket that decided the HVAC duct was the best place for serenading all the lady crickets. I was trying to get back to sleep and abruptly realized that it was technically Wednesday, I didn’t have a post ready to go, and that I really should get up and write one before I forgot again. Then I promptly fell back asleep. Oops.
But it all works out, because I want to talk about routines, and the segue is less inane than usual, all because of The World’s Loudest Cricket.
When I lived in Colorado, I didn’t really like my routine, but I was able to get a reasonable amount of stuff done, simply by telling myself, ‘Okay, check the list. It’s time to do XYZ.’ Now that I’m in a new house in a new state, a lot of things have been upended, and I’m still sorting it out. Which explains why I started off this year meaning to publish eight times, and I’ve gotten precisely two of those projects out the door.
Part of the problem is that I’m a morning person, so I want to do everything early, and relax in the afternoons. And I mean everything. I want to write, clean the house, do errands, ride the horse, etc., all before noon. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
As for why I need some semblance of routine, it’s so I can improvise the rest of life. I’ve gotten reasonably good at winging it, but that works best on discrete projects, not on something as amorphous as ‘life’.
Some of us can’t live with routine; others can’t live without it. But I’ve found that writing books works best for me, when I write at a defined time of day. I alternate between projects, and some of them are unpublishable, but getting the words out is important anyway.
I’ve also found myself developing some bad habits, the most obvious of which is avoiding the hard parts of books. I began by using placeholders for names, etc., so I didn’t have to stop and fill in every little gap. Now I’m using placeholders for entire chapters- I kid you not, one of the recent ones was ‘Gavril finds the treasure and brings it back.’ That’s the plot, contained in one sentence. Then I wandered off to do something non-productive and never got back to figuring out how Gavril rescued the treasure. I don’t even know what the treasure is.
Another interesting development is that I write long, detailed to-do lists, and don’t end up doing half the tasks. Some of them were never really necessary, and some don’t have a specific time frame- those last few moving boxes have been neatly stacked in the living room for months; if they don’t go in the attic today, it’s no big deal.
So the point of this little screed is that I need to reintroduce some order into the slow-moving chaos. And no one’s going to do it for me- the combined joy and peril of working from home.
How to do it? Good question. I think I’ll keep going with to-do lists, and possibly do daily and weekly ones, to help sort out my priorities. Get up when the alarm goes off, and roll directly from the bed to the computer, so I don’t have a chance to get distracted. Maybe write a couple of short stories, to get myself in the habit of writing ‘The End.’ Go to bed at a reasonable hour, not, whenever I feel like it.
What am I forgetting? Besides another cup of coffee- a useful part of any good routine.