Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Routine Writing

One of the most frequent questions established (read: published) writers are asked involves their writing routine.  I think it's mostly because the general public sees writing as a very unstructured occupation that can be accomplished at any hour of the day or night; maybe it's the fact that popular culture portrays authors up all night toiling next to a single candle in a dark room.

Most writers answer that question by claiming to have a pretty strict regimen. I myself love Janet Evanovich's reply (as found on her website):

I drag myself out of bed around six, shove myself into the clothes laying on the floor and plod down the road after the dog. I eat a boring breakfast of skim milk, orange juice and healthy cereal because when I wake up I always think I'm Christie Brinkley and it seems like something Christie would do. Then I shuffle into the office I share with a really rude parrot. The dog follows after me and flops onto his bed to take a nap. (Next time around I want to be my dog.) I stare at the computer screen for about four hours, sometimes actually typing some sentences. I chew gum and drink green tea to keep myself from falling out of my chair in a catatonic stupor. At noon I'm suddenly filled with energy and rush to the refrigerator, hoping a pineapple upside-down cake with lots of whipped cream has mysteriously appeared. Finding none, I make a tuna or peanut butter and olive sandwich. I go back to my office and visualize myself getting exercise. I play an amazing game of mental tennis. In my mind's eye I look great in the little tennis dress. Very athletic. When I'm done playing tennis I stare at the computer screen some more. When nothing appears on the screen I drive down to the local store and buy a bag of Cheez Doodles. I eat the Cheez Doodles and manage to actually write several pages. When I'm done with the Doodles and pages I wander out of my office looking for someone to whine at because I just made myself fat. (I'm only Christie Brinkley in the morning. In the afternoon I'm Roseanne.) I alternate typing and whining for the rest of the afternoon until about five when I emerge from my office, once again hoping for the pineapple cake.

Of course, Janet has the benefit of many years of successful authorhood.  And her kids are grown, so she's got that freedom, too.  But she does set a good example for all of us who just starting out or who are still struggling to find that rhythm of writing. 

This is on my mind right now because we're about to begin our new school year.  Homeschooling is a full time job.  I plan the curriculum, set up our schedules and keep the kids on track.  As I'm planning our daily routines this year, I'm working to build some Mommy writing time into our days.  It's not easy, but I need to make it happen--I get antsy when I have to go too long without doing some serious writing.

I'm realizing more and more that it's a matter of priorities.  For now, educating my children has to be my focus, but writing comes next--and I'm wiling to do what I need to in order to make that happen.

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