One of the things I heard at the Muse and the Marketplace writers conference in Boston earlier this month that really resonated with me was this:
“writers need a set schedule, routine, and discipline.”
That was a quote from my session with author Ann Bauer entitled “Writing Bootcamp: The No-Excuses Approach.” Ann goes on to say that as writers, we need to write every day, preferably at the same time every day, in the same place, with the same routine. She then added that this time should ideally be first thing in the morning, right after you’ve woken up and you haven’t had time to really think about anything else.
The reason this resonated was because I know from experience that she is right – that IS the ideal time. I used to have a really great writing schedule. I’d wake up at 0530 to a freshly brewed pot of coffee (thank you, programmable Mr. Coffee!) and I would sit down at my dining room table happily typing away until 0645, when I would then have to start getting ready for work. During this time I was on fire – I wrote every day, my novel was coming along nicely…
…and then things started to go downhill.
— I started snoozing a little bit longer each day
— I started skyping with The Man in the mornings so we could talk before I had to leave for work (sometimes we did a devotional together, other days we did not)
— The weather started to warm up and it started getting lighter earlier, so I was waking up and running in the mornings before work.
My writing got pushed to the back burner.
In the days after the conference, I started a new routine. I was again waking up at 0530, I would write until 0615, then shower and get ready and still have time to skype with The Man for 20-30 minutes before work.
Except that I also realized recently that I need to focus on time alone with God (see this post), and so my morning writing got replaced with spending time with God. This is a good thing, trust me. My days are so much better (and less stressful!) when I start them with Jesus.
I’m still trying to figure out the writing schedule thing. Right now (ha – I seriously wrote “write now” just then!) I’m writing in short spurts, whenever I get some time or when the mood strikes. And I think, for now, that’s going to have to be my writing routine. Maybe it’s not “the ideal writing routine”, but it’s working for me…mostly.
You’ll notice that running was also taken out of my AM schedule. This brings me to…
…the dreaded treadmill.
I used to be a treadmill junkie, mostly because I spent three years in the Middle East and refused to run outside in 140 degree weather and at 6000 feet above sea level. So I pounded out the miles on the treadmill and was lovin’ every minute of it.
(Anybody else now have that song stuck in their head??)
But then I moved back to the East Coast, where I started a love affair with outdoor running. What’s not to love? The scenery always changes, the air is fresh and crisp, you get to spend time outside…love it.
I mean, can you blame me? Gorgeous, right?
Now, running on the treadmill has become a chore, but if the alternative is to not run at all, well, let me at that machine!
I should mention here that I only have to run on the treadmill a couple times a week. I still run outdoors after work, but on days when it’s just raining (like all last week) or when I know I need a break during the day, I’ll grab my gear and hit the treadmills at my office. I prefer running in the morning, because then I spend the day with a runners high, but I’ll take what I can get!
I’ve decided to look at it this way — at least I have a gym at work with treadmills to run on. At least I have two working legs and a clean bill of health. I have the desire, the opportunity, and the ability to run…so all I can do is thank God for that.
…and get back on that treadmill.