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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Writing Routine? I don't have one!

A lot of writers swear by routines: they say it's not possible to get anything done unless they have a routine. The routines vary of course: some like to do the 'nine to five' thing or some variation of the theme so they have a set time they 'go to work'; others have a set place they write in, whether it's an office at home, their local cafe, the shed out the back yard, wherever it is they associate with writing; others still have rituals they need to follow before starting on a writing session. These could be anything from a period of meditation to a coffee in a specific cup or mug.

Then there are other writers who don't have any routine at all: they just write when, where and how it comes. Or, it has to be said, they don't write. That's the problem with routines: if you don't have them it all gets very unpredictable. This isn't to say that following a set routine will gaurantee that words will flow and writing will flourish. Equally, lack of routine is no gaurantee either. The difference lies in the idea of going to work doesn't it? With a set routine we can atleast do something related to our writing work, whether it's reading, research, filing, or as a friend once put it, 'shuffling papers'.

Of course we can do all that without a routine; I guess it's just that without a routine we can allow time to just pass on by without anything in the way of writing done to show for it. Choosing to have a routine in place or not is an individual choice obviously. And in part the decision will have a lot to do with aims and goals and what we want to achieve on a given day or within a given writing project. Then there are those writers who no matter how hard they try to establish and stick to routines just can't do it. I think I fall into this latter category.

Sometimes the mundane things of life take over and time just goes by without me allowing myself (or being allowed by the chores or whatever) to sit down and get stuck into the work. Other times I pretend to myself that I am awaiting inspiration. (of course sometimes I really am waiting on inspiration). I'm working on a project at the moment for example, that's taken years so far and I'm still only about a quarter done. Up until recently I have insisted to myself that the nature of the project is virtually completely reliant on inspiration. That's probably why it's taken so long.

Anyway, lately I've decided to sit down with the project and push it a little. I'm not saying I really force it to come, it's more that I focus on it for a time. And I've been surprised and pleased by the results. It hasn't worked every time, but I have made more progress in a few shortish sessions than I have in a year or two. All I've done is sit, focus on ideas for moving the thing forward, and then somehow, it comes. Sounds easy doesn't it? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

As I think I mentioned, so much of the decision to develop routines or not is dependent on the nature of the work and of course deadlines ... whether they are self-imposed or dictated by some outside entity. And many writers do have deadlines if they are writing for magazines or newspapers.

The fact that I don't have routines does bother me. In a sense I would say that this fact alone is responsible for me not having produced more writing than I have. This blog, in its way, will be a help in this: I will write at least one post a day and that alone will give me a routine. It's only a small routine, but it's a start.

Looks like, from reading this that I am in favour of routines, and that I simply haven't been able to implement them for myself. I think this is probably correct. A failing on my part I suppose. Of course a writer's life isn't confined to just writing: there are other factors impacting on and influencing our lives. But that is a whole bunch of other stories.

So, would I recommend working routines for others? I think I probably would. Now the only problem remaining is for me to find ways to implement some routines of my own, and to start getting the writing done that I know I want to do.

Stay tuned!

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