So I’m finally doing this writing thing instead of just thinking about it and obsessing over it in my mind. And the one thing that’s helped me the most has been setting a writing routine. I’m about the least disciplined person I know. I’ve always deeply admired those steady eddies who count calories and workout religiously and have standing morning “quiet times.” But I will say I’m pretty fun at parties and sometimes I think that’s as important. So the fact that I was getting into a routine was pleasantly surprising to me. It’s something Anne Lamott writes about in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. By the way, if you have any, any interest in writing, and I’ve already heard from some of you who do, stop reading this and go grab a copy of it and read it instead. Or in the very least read this. You’re welcome.
One thing Anne notes in her book is, so much of writing is about sitting down and doing it every day. Ugh. I’m more of a herky jerky person. I do most things in fits and starts; going on a writing binge; staying up for three nights straight, producing a ton of material and then not opening my laptop for more than browsing Facebook for three months is more my style. It’s a very good thing I never got into drugs. But I didn’t want to be like that when it came to writing. I’m serious about this and I want it to be sustainable, a part of my life for years and years to come. So I gave this routine thing some thought.
Rituals are a good signal to your unconscious that it is time to kick in. More A.L. Every parent knows that putting a baby to sleep is ALL ABOUT routine. Luke gets a bath, a bottle of warm milk (one minute in the microwave in a mug, not in the plastic sippy cup he’ll be drinking it out of, something about PBAs?). Then a diaper change, p.j.’s, three books, lights out, “Good Night Lukey, love you,” I croon as I slowly close the door and creep out. In that order. Don’t even think about deviating. Yes, I’ve written this out in its entirety to grandparents and babysitters alike. Sometimes Ava wants to “read” him his books. Although cute any other time, I’ve learned to say a firm “no” to this at nap time or bed time. It’s not part of the routine. Everything will go haywire. Plan on it. Bedtime will be extended by two hours. Goodbye glass of chardonnay and Real Housewives of Orange County, I’ll have to catch you another night.
Anne revealed her writing routine in the book, which was hilarious and helpful. So this has been my writing routine, all five days of it: I sit down at my new writing space. I’m still very much in love with it. It’s new and cute and all mine. It reflects me and has some of my favorite things all in one spot: photos, books, fresh pens, a new pale blue moleskin, a view of the mountains, an open window. I can hear the birds during the day and the crickets at night. I feel like I can breathe here. Also, I’m deeply thankful for the jumpstart this little space gave me in my new endeavor. I always sit down with a beverage in hand. Hot coffee in my favorite mug in the morning, homemade iced coffee in the afternoon, chardonnay at night. I light a candle (jasmine & teakwood) and put on Pandora’s Buddha Bar Radio for vibe. I open up my laptop, and start typing. I hear more of Anne’s words, You simply keep writing down one damn word after the other, as you hear them, as they come to you. And I do.
Writing has never been hard for me. It’s the cutting it down, “netting it out” as my dad says to my mom when she’s telling a long-winded story full of details about people whom he couldn’t care less about. Once I get started it’s hard for me to stop. It’s the getting started part that’s been hard for me in the past, but becoming easier with my simple and enjoyable little writing routine I’ve become very fond of over the last week.
One of my dreams for this little place is for it to be interactive. One of the reasons I write is to relate to others… join a conversation… start a conversation, so some of my posts will have questions at the end. I’d love, love, love to hear your responses to them. I promise to read every one of them.
So, do you have any routines that help you get down to business? Maybe it’s your morning routine, the same one every day that gets you ready to take on the day. Or a routine for falling asleep. Or your daily workout. What works for you to do that thing you do?
What’s a routine you’d like to add to your life? One you think may be helpful in getting you in gear to do that thing you’ve been meaning to/dreaming of doing?