Yesterday was an extraordinarily productive day! I was pleased with all I had accomplished and was looking forward to writing my blog post this morning. I got up and started the kids getting ready for school. (They don't start for another week, but it is time to get back into routine.) Then I set myself down at the computer and realized that I had no idea what to write!
This is incredibly embarrassing for the woman who claims to never have writers block. Sadly, I have a million ideas for the two books I was working on last night, but for a blog post? Hmmmm.... And I have been trying to force a topic for almost an hour with no success. All I could think is that I can't wait for the kids to go back to school for real. I need to get back in to my routine.
Ding! There is a great topic for you!!
I know that many creative types cringe at the word routine and I can sympathize. There was a time in my life where I could just let the inspiration strike and go on writing binges. I would sacrifice pretty much anything else for the craft. And when there were down days it was no biggie. I'd get inspiration again soon enough. But as I have grown up, I have more responsibilities that just cannot be set aside when inspiration strikes. (Two adorable priorities in particular!) This has forced me to develop a routine.
A routine restricts the creative inspiration, but only at first. When you are not used to writing.... say from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day, the thought of spending that much time writing can be daunting. But habits only take 30 days to form. After that habit is formed, when your predictable schedule is thrown out of whack (say, due to summer break?) it can be very difficult to go back to the whole writing-whenever-inspiration-strikes mentality.
I honestly believe that our creative muscles get tuned to a certain channel when we adopt a routine. We are more likely to have creative moments if our body is used to the rhythm of the routine. The sooner you start building this routine for yourself, the sooner you will find yourself able to finish projects and build your own writing career. Maybe you can't throw caution to the wind and work from home at this time in your life. Maybe your writing time is limited by other priorities, but that is ok. Set a regular routine now, even if it is only a couple of hours one day a week.
When I first started working on All is Well (my book that currently has an agent) I was working full-time, going to school full-time and raising two pre-school aged boys. I wrote that book in once-a-week meetings I had with my best friend at a coffee house. We would get there after I put my boys to bed (around 7:30 p.m.) and stay as late as we could. We rarely talked as we both had only this set time to write. But on the way to and from we would share what we were working on and catch up on life. I miss that routine! It got me through my first real book and I will always be grateful to my best friend for helping me to start routines in writing. If it were not for her, I would not be writing as a career today!
Because of that routine, I knew when I could write. My body mentally prepared itself to work at that time. It was wonderful how the book seemed to flow, practically writing itself. When I finished writing the book, my friend was so kind and generous to take time out of her busy workweek and review it. I would then work on those revisions during our once-a-week meetings. It was a slow go. It took me two years to finish my book. But it was worth it. After I graduated and went to work in the "real" world, I lost that time. I was mostly just focused on finding an agent, and then dealing with life. It took me another two years to find an agent and in that time, I wasn't writing much at all.
Between work and helping my children and husband with school work and house work; I was emotionally and mentally sapped. But I kept sending my book out. Then my job gave me the opportunity to work from home, opening up my schedule. Within a week of working from home, I set aside two hours in the morning to write. Then I would work and during my "lunch" time I would submit my manuscript.
Six months later I was let go from my company. A week after, I got an agent for my manuscript! It was a hard decision for me to stick to my writing. My husband and I had many long discussions about it at night as I looked for another job. In the end, we determined that I needed to be at home for family reasons and I might as well do this if I couldn't find anything else that would allow me to work from home.
And a year later, here I am. I haven't made the big time, but I am slowly slogging along. Thanks to routine I have one book with an agent, one book in the editing stage, one book on second draft, one on first draft... oh and for those of you who may have missed it, an e-book that will be coming out very soon!
As a matter of fact, I have finished all the drafts of my e-book and am about ready to e-publish. Since the main purpose of my e-book is to give you, my loyal readers, something for the time you have given me; I need to know which you prefer, Kindle or e-reader. Let me know in comments so I can get this baby out to you guys!