The Evolution Of A Routine

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Well, I’ve got the Google+ page up and running. (With a bit of help! Thank you, Adele!) Setting it up jogged my memory back to this post from what now seems so long ago December 2013. In it (back when almost no one was reading this blog! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), I wrote in part:

….Having previously worked in education, and then as a consultant, I have been used to working on my own and sometimes at home. While writing fiction is new to me, my new routine is not much different from previous ones.

A long-published writer relation of mine years ago told me he even found it difficult to avoid being bothered during the day. The assumption was that, being home, he must be โ€œavailable.โ€ He reached the point where he would rarely answer the phone (his answering machine always picked up), and never answered his door. โ€œIf I was in an office somewhere,โ€ he said, โ€œI wouldnโ€™t be home to answer the door. When Iโ€™m working, Iโ€™m not here.โ€

He would write early in the day, and then head out to the gym or meet friends, and then return home to write more in the afternoon. It worked for him. That was also then pre-social media….

That “long-published writer relation” was, of course, my now late uncle. I remember visiting with him a bunch of times when I was a graduate student – when the rest of the “adult-world” was mostly out at their places of employment. I recall too how my now late mother used to poke fun at “Hemingway” (her nickname for him): “Is he actually writing anything?!”

A couple of decades later, he became my “guide.” My mother was wrong: he was indeed working. After all, how do you actually organize your WORK DAY as an author? There isn’t a handbook out there, really. Everyone is different.

My “Uncle Bill” had his home office in his Newport (Rhode Island) house, and was often at it VERY early in the mornings. I noticed he would stop around 10am for a few hours. He would then go back to his PC after lunch for another 3 or so hours.

Pre-social media, he was a phone call maker, too. (In comparison, I hate talking on the telephone: I’d much rather send an email or use Messenger.) He loved a good phone chat. I remember him one morning even on the phone to his French editor – a charming man he knew well, whom I’d actually met in Paris once. He’d called him there just to shoot the breeze! (I also remember being so wowed to witness that! Impressionable “kid” I was!)

His workday completed, pre-dinner the booze would come out. Uh, not all the time, mind you. Mostly it was when I was visiting. Or, uh, when others were visiting. Umm, come to think of it, he had visitors a lot. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a desk.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a desk.

So as a writer you may not look like you are “working,” but you are – even when you’re home in the middle of the day.

I used to joke about his also having NPR on in the background. I’d dig him: “Are you trying to look smart?” I’ve since learned I find such “talk” messes my train of thought as I write. I don’t like dead peace and quiet either, but I prefer to listen to music.

I tend also to write in spurts of an hour or two, and then take a break. And I’ve learned too what he had experienced. Suddenly the doorbell might ring. “I have a package for your neighbour,” the courier or UPS guy declares. (Yeh, yeh, I smile back at him, I’ll take it. I’m here, but I’m NOT actually here, my friend, I’m thinking as I sign for it. I was writing something I thought was great and was mid-paragraph and the buzzer broke my concentration, startled me to the point I nearly hit the ceiling, and now I have to go back and try to remember that sentence!) Or the landline phone might start blaring. (Do I answer it? It’s probably someone trying to get me to change my gas supplier or my wants to sell us windows. But what if it’s from America? My parents never use my mobile phone? They always use the landline!) The potential interruptions are many and varied.

Then there are “planned” and helpful distractions, like Google+ – which is where this post began – or other social media like Twitter, of course, or About.me, or Facebook. Or I might do something around the house for an hour, or pop to a shop, etc.

I’ve learned I can’t just write and write and write without relaxing my mind briefly. After I have a “brainstorm” of several pages or so, I have to stop – sort of like a sprint. If I keep at it past the point of that “rush,” I’ve discovered I’m unlikely to write particularly well.

As you may know, usually I try to post on the blog here early in my day. That post has become a ritual of sorts. It gets my mind moving – even if it’s only a short post.

This post about finished now, I will vanish from your social media “sights” for a while. I’ll pop back over to Google+ later on, and have a longer visit there. I’d been by for a short stop earlier. (Thanks for the follows!)

I got a much later start than usual today – in the routine that has developed since 2012. The new novel calls. Another day. ๐Ÿ™‚

2 comments

    1. When you get that “burst” you have to try to focus it down. Think of a book or a short story you want to read. Over time, writing what you want to read, those many pages can become a coherent tale.

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