There are routines I engage in every morning of my life. I get up at a certain time, I watch the news and drink my coffee, and I shower in a certain order and fix my hair and makeup in a certain manner. I follow the same patterns at least every weekday and even my weekends have some routinized method to them. While working, I follow specific patterns, although the problems and issues of the day shift, I handle things in the same routine manners. Routine is the structure of my day, as it is most people.
Even this blog begins to feel routine after a while. I try to write it like clockwork every Monday morning. Although the topics change, depending upon what ideas I’m struggling with, I still plug away at writing it weekly. It is a part of my routine and at times, I feel disconnected from the emotion it engenders. I try to switch up the times that I do things, the order in which I get ready, the feelings with which I engage while writing this blog, but everything still feels so routine.
Routines are neutral, aren’t they? They are the rhythms by which we live our lives and they lend order and structure to each day. Without our little routines, our days would be chaotic and messy. We all have those days when we wake up late, the routine disrupted, rushing out the door and forgetting things. Those days feel lost as we struggle to keep up with the schedules and plans we’ve so carefully put in place. Routines are not a bad thing in and of themselves and I find them necessary, regardless of how much they sometimes bore me.
Aside from this blog, my writing is not part of my routine. I don’t know that it should be. The ordered, structured part of me wants to fit my creative writing into my routine, set a time and place to engage with it regularly. I feel as though if I could just routinize it, I would find success and publication finally. If I could just lay out the pattern of my writing, wedge it into the structure of my day or week on a schedule, I would be a better writer. I would prove to myself that I am committed and I would reach the goals I’ve set for myself.
Those successful writers out there, the ones whose names we all know and who have structured their lives around their writing, they have created a routine that includes regularly putting words on paper. If I could just manage that, plan for it, perhaps I could I find their level of success.
There is always a “but” to this whole idea, though. I worry that it’s just lazy thinking, but my ideas fly from the chaos, the ether most often. I find that I can’t enforce a routine on when those ideas appear and when I’m ready to write. If I structured my writing, forced myself to sit down and write on a regular schedule, would my writing lose something? I worry that it will. In the past, when I’ve shoved past the blocks and written my stories without feeling the inspiration or the chaos, they don’t seem to flow as easily, they don’t make sense or they lack my spare and signature writing style.
Of course, there are other aspects of my writing I could routinize, the editing and the submitting. I could create spreadsheets and send off stories to contests and publications. I could read up on my craft, study my chosen path through the advice and the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I could outline and plan for future projects. There are definitely parts of this process that could stand to be routinized, scheduled and planned to aid in delivering me the publication I crave.
The stories themselves, though, are not routine. I don’t think I can make the ideas and the inspiration fit into my patterns and plans. Were I to do so, I feel they would lose something special, something magical, which makes them strong and true and honest. While so much of my life is routine, this one piece that makes me whole must fly free. To force the thoughts and ideas, to schedule the crafting of my stories, to regulate the voices of my characters, would only lead to yet another routine, lacking in emotion or care. I’m a planner, a scheduler, but my stories must escape that tendency of mine.
Writing is wild and chaotic. It is the storm I anticipate and the energy of thunder and lightning crashing on my world. It is the froth of the waves and the ripple of a windy day. It comes and it goes and I hold on desperately, waiting for those moments to appear when I am swept away and routines melt. I hold my breath and I gather my resources. I wait, breathless.