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Do you have a routine?

I was fortunate enough to join Jeannine Atkins for a latte on Saturday morning while I was up in Massachusetts to visit Maggie at college, and Jeannine introduced me to Burleigh Mutén, whose book, Miss Emily, I reviewed a few months back. And during our conversation, which I quite enjoyed, Burleigh asked me this question: "Do you have a routine?"

My answer quite surprised me. I said, "Not really," and further along in my grasping for an answer was surprised to hear myself say, "I'm still in transition."

First, it surprised me that at present, I do not have a writing routing. Not in the way I think of routines, anyhow. I used to have routines, once upon a time, but they were from a different time and circumstance. And I keep putting "writing" on my daily to-do list in my bullet journal, and I keep being able to check it off, but there are some days when it's a mere five minutes of jotting something, and others when it's a few hours of dedicated work. But there has been a lot less "dedicated time for work" in my life since I moved-- or since before I moved. And I am okay with that, actually, since I used to use work to hide from an unhappy life, and now that I have a happy life, I'm pretty okay with less dedicated work time. It's not that I can't dedicate the time, it's that I seem to keep choosing not to spend quite as much time each day at the computer. Possibly that's a good thing, maybe not. Likely it will change once I figure out the shape of the new project I have in mind, involving lots of research and writing, and possibly even a bit of travel. But I digress.

Second, I was surprised to hear the words "I'm still in transition" come out of my mouth, because I haven't been thinking that in any active sense, yet as soon as they flew out, I recognized them as true. It's been a year of change, what with selling my house and moving in with my sweetheart. And we continue to make changes here within the house, in part because we both realized how silly it was that there was so much stuff that we fixed up to sell my house (that I'd been meaning to do for years) that it's silly not to just fix up this one how we want it now, rather than going forward without it being how we actually want it.

Perhaps 2015 will see me moving out of transition and into more of a routine. I guess we'll see. Meanwhile, I keep working (and truly, I've gotten a lot of new writing done this year, anyhow), and settling into my not-quite-new-anymore home and life.

Now the big question: Do YOU have a routine?

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 27th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
2014 seems like a good year for your with themes of houses and their many needs, change, love, and still time for words. 2015 and your chapbook, and more settling in, sounds like it will be great, too!

I do find I need to get to words every day, or they can start to slip away, and then be harder to get back to. I guess I do like a routine of getting up and getting to my computer.

So great to spend a Saturday morning with you!
Oct. 28th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
I like the way you framed things in that first paragraph. And I agree, I try to get some writing done every day. But I used to have a regular sequence to my days that isn't there anymore. Some days I write in the morning, some in the afternoon or even in the evening. But I also feel like I'm doing other good things in life, including more exercise and fresh air, and more home cooking and baking, so it all works out.

SO enjoyed seeing you!!
Oct. 27th, 2014 06:10 pm (UTC)
I think not.

Once upon a time art and sometimes writing fit in wherever it could. In between work, life, music and mayhem.

I was OK with that. There were tons of routines for the art in my day job. My art happened when it did.

Now, it's still the same.

So, with that answer maybe I should answer the question, yes, I do—it's chaos.
Oct. 28th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
Can chaos actually be a routine? If it is one, does it lose its chaotic identity and become somehow regulated? These are the things you have me pondering. (Rather like the "anarchists unite!" notion, because if you are struggling against systems, how can you join something without it becoming a system?)

Hope you're finding a way to get a little art done these days.
Oct. 28th, 2014 04:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I should have answered "no."

With emphasis on "little." Or maybe I should start doing "little art" instead of big art. :-)

Cancer makes my ADD work even more crazy. Or maybe cancer's not to blame and it's just my routine: chaos.

Oct. 29th, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
It's hard to differentiate sometimes, isn't it? Is it normal or "the new normal"? Either way, I'm glad you are still moving forward.
Oct. 29th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, "normal" is so far gone—a billion light years away—that I don't even know how to compare any more. I thank my lucky stars for people like you who talk the talk on THAT crap and also be in my corner to get me back in the studio or the writing desk.

Oct. 28th, 2014 04:00 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to remember the last time I had a routine. I've definitely written more frequently in my life, but (I think!) not necessarily more productively.

I'm in transition, too, with going back to work full time and also with having picked up picture book writing in the past couple of years--which seems to set a different structure to my writing time and to the times I write, if that makes sense.

I try (really hard) to think of this writing as a long-term thing, and long-term things always have tidal ebbs and flows, right? When I was younger, I used to be more of an all-or-nothing person, and when I didn't do something for a bit, would get all panicky and anxious that this meant I'd never do it again. And, oh, yeah, THAT was helpful and conducive to the creative spirit. :)

I think it's really important to note how happy you are now and that you talk about pushing away unhappiness with more writing in the past. You know that wasn't the way to "be," so go with this for a while and see where it leads you! Wherever that is, I am betting it will include plenty of writing.
Oct. 28th, 2014 04:19 pm (UTC)
You are also in transition with your newly empty nest, don't forget, which lends itself to different rhythms in the home as well.

This writing thing really IS a long-term gig - for me, it's now 12 years and counting. And while I haven't settled into a daily routine that feels like the "right" one, I do manage to get at least a bit of writing time in most days, which is a good thing. And oddly enough, I've come up with something like five or six new picture books in the past year, at least three of which are done and pretty strong (if I do say so myself). (I'm fuzzy on my math at the moment but don't feel like looking it up.)
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