Routine versus flexibility

I’m about to fess up to my hugest struggle.  This blog is all about my personal struggles regarding writing, so here it is:  The word “routine” is anathema to my psyche.  I can’t seem to apply anything resembling patterns to the act of living my life.  I can’t bring myself to go to bed until I get one more thing done, whether it’s a blog post, some more character development on the outline that’s consuming my thoughts, a couple of paragraphs on a new story idea, correspondence I just remembered I have to get done tonight or a quick load of laundry.  The house is relatively quiet, except for the kitten who has to chase that bottle cap across the floor right now.  He’s obviously a kindred spirit.

On the other hand, one of the qualities I love about myself is that I’m eminently flexible.  I can change my plans (rough and undeveloped as they are) at a moment’s notice.  I can also drop a preconceived opinion and embrace a better one as soon as I realize the error of my ways.  That psyche I mentioned before is always casting about for something new to wrap itself around.  Then I delve into the novel idea until it makes sense and maybe I can even incorporate it into a story.

Eventually, I realize the dryer isn’t tumbling any more, I look at the clock at the bottom of my computer screen and uh-oh – I lost a surprising amount of time – laundry and sleep time.  So some days I make do with two to five hours of sleep.  I really do best with seven to eight, but I can handle shorting myself for a day or two.  When it catches up with me, I have to sleep ten or twelve hours to catch up.

Trying to utilize both of these concepts at the same time are like having a boxing match in my head.  In one corner we have Routine, a fighter who applies unrelenting logic and is a pedantic scrapper.  In the other corner is Flexibility, an innovative, unpredictable brawler.  Who wins?  Me, when they have that initial friendly handshake.  Then they start going at each other.  At the bell, they’re each suffering from wounds of frustration and guilt.

My husband’s middle name should have been “Routine.”  His motto is “Change is bad.”  Add to that a daughter, son-in-law in residence with two granddaughters aged one and three and it’s clear my need to periodically sleep the morning away is not conducive to interrelational harmony.

How this relates to my writing, is I have no set time to write except when everybody goes to bed, but that is not really my most creative time.  I worked at a weekly newspaper several years ago as a reporter.  I found the end of the day was not the best time for me to try to write a story.  It was like pulling teeth.  If I slept even two hours on Deadline Eve, I could write the story at five o’clock A.M. with no trouble at all.

This is a situation I always struggle with – I tend to easily be a night owl, but night-time is not when I’m the most productive creatively.  For me, early morning is when I think best.  Having a job where I work mid-afternoon until as late as midnight doesn’t help either.  I work from home, so when I’m done, I’m still wound up.  What’s a body to do?

When is the best time for you to be productively creative, and how do you carve that time for yourself out of your schedule?  What conundrums do you face?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tmheim22
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 19:56:41

    My ideal time to be creative would be during a normal “work day”. My goal, like everyone else, is to make this my full time day job. Unfortunately, for now, I have a very demanding job that requires that I work both days and nights. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to “schedule” time to write. This has left me even more frustrated with less productivity. So, I have caved, I now write all the time. If I am in a meeting and a character or story taps me on the shoulder, I start jotting down notes and sticking them in my pocket. I am like an addict, stashing pens, notebooks, and post its in every cabinet, drawer, and jacket pocket that I own. I’m a walking bulletin board. At the end of the day, when the house is relatively quiet, at least no humans need my assistance, I empty my purse, pockets, and other “storage” areas of all my bits and pieces of paper. I sift through them, separating the “who knows what that was” from the “definitely a great idea”, and wearily sit in front of the computer and hope that inspiration is still up as late as I am. You are not alone in the dark of the night, I’m here with you!!! Hmmm….maybe this could be the first line of a new novel…The pale blue light reflects off of her tired face as she taps away at her computer. A buzzer sounds alerting her to the last load of laundry for the night. As the clock strikes midnight, she descends the stairs to find that she is not alone after all. A scarred hand reaches for her……… 🙂 you get the idea!!


  2. C J Gorden
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 16:06:58

    I feel your pain, tmheim22. Right now I’m out on a medical leave, but I normally work from between 2 and 4pm until between 10pm and midnight, which makes mornings difficult to manage. I’m always wound up when I’m off work, even though I work from home. I have always kept a small notebook with me when I’m out and about, which has gradually gotten bigger, and now is a netbook as well as a steno notebook for when it’s not feasible to boot up the netbook. The problem is organization. Oh, yeah, and tiredness, which is often challenged by imagination, very much like your awesome illustration. Heh heh heh. ………she jumps and startles awake, relieved it was a dream and she’s still at her desk and not on the stairs after all. Her relief turns back to terror when she realizes the sickening smell of mildew and rot is not from her laundry. It emanates from behind her, as do the scraping sounds alternating with wet slapping plops. She spins in her desk chair………


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