Process and Routine

Thinking about process right now. And what is becoming clear to me as I try to get myself into some routines is that trying to be that writer who sits down and writes for X hours per day and churns out X000 words per day isn’t going to work for me. Discipline isn’t really the issue. I can do that. I did NaNoWriMo for many years—I lost count—and always hit my target. So it’s possible for me to do that, but it’s not sustainable for me. And even though I’m putting words on the page, they might be pure, directionless crap. So I feel like I need to find a different process that is more in line with my personality, lifestyle, and other responsibilities.

I did some research recently about the habits of some of the greatest writers, and I certainly found some solid advice that resonates with me. The idea of ending before you’re done so that you know exactly where you’re starting when you get to the next session is brilliant. And I also saw a lot about getting exercise and having a dedicated space. I can check those boxes.

But what I realize is that trying to do anything for extended periods makes me restless and my mind wanders and then I procrastinate or engage in some other distraction. I’m fairly sure that if I were growing up now, I’d be classified as ADHD. But in my day, I was just really smart and eccentric. I can focus on things in short bursts, like 20-25 minutes before I need to move, unless I am super engaged and the words are flowing. Then I can sit for hours. But that’s not an everyday thing.

Maybe it would be a more efficient use of my time to make a list of what I want to accomplish for the day and then just tick off boxes in whatever way they get done. I already have my routine of doing yoga every morning, except when I had Covid—I had to take a couple of days off because I literally couldn’t move. And then I make my tea or hot lemon water and I do my tarot readings for the day. I can make my list after my readings. That way whatever else comes up can be fit in around what I know I have to get done. And on those days when the words just flow, I can stay in my little cave as long as I want. How beautiful is that?

One of the reasons I started freelance writing years ago was because aside from loving to write, I wanted flexibility—in what I wrote, who I wrote for, and how I did it. So why should writing fiction work any differently? There needs to be structure, but it needs to be my structure. I’ve never fit into anyone else’s mold, and I don’t think I can start now.

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