Monday, September 23, 2019

Change It Up

What do other writers do to make it work?
Routines are a curse and a blessing.  I have a shelf full of books about writing -- how to write, other writers' habits, writing systems, writing style books.  When I wonder why I haven't made regular progress on my latest work, I seek inspiration in the habits of other writers.  What do they do to get going?  How do they discipline themselves to put pen to paper (or fingertip to keyboard)?

I bury myself in my study and obsess over other writers' routines.  Yes, I think, that will work for me!  Then I look at  "inspiring quotes by writers" online.  Some of them seem so smart, so assured, so certain of what works.

How to do it?  Just start.
Routines keep me slogging through the times when I really don't want to do the supper dishes before going to bed, when I'd really rather not take the dog for a walk or answer the list of emails still flagged for attention. My father used to quote Benjamin Disraeli:  "The secret of success is constancy of purpose."  I rail at myself for being inconstant, for not following the schedule I set for myself.  A routine, I know, can get me sitting down to write even when I don't feel like doing it, when I'm still tussling with a plot twist that is too knotted up or is fraying at the edges.  It's hard, and I want to avoid it.  Rituals are soothing. Even if the problem isn't solved, at least this much is true, that it happens every weekday.

But if the ritual becomes stale I'm in trouble.  I stare out the window thinking how dark the sky, how sodden the rainy ground, how easy it is to forget about writing and fold laundry just because it's Monday.  Then I need to change things up, even in small ways.  I need to walk a new trail, paint a wall, write a poem today instead of a plot diagram.

Stepping back to step forward
I get inspiration from reading about what others do, and sometimes they can give me a fresh approach, a new way of looking, new eyes.  Sometimes I have to step back from it all in order to step forward.  Sometimes I have to rip up my To Do list and take a deep breath of rain-fresh air, contemplate my next words to the rhythm of my hiking boots on the trail, and tackle the thorny problem late at night rather than early in the morning.  Writing can be torture; it can also be a thrilling ride.  I will read about others' rituals, make my own, and change it up when I need to.  We need to surprise ourselves to keep the thrill alive.

“If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.”― H.G. Wells


  1. Here's to ripping up my To Do list, and jumping on my newly-tuned-up bicycle...thx for permission!😅👌

  2. I stop trying to prep for school when I'm too tired to think. I like not being in a rush, except to rush outside and home to my daughter and puppies.😁😌