My new post-retirement routine is to spend two hours first thing every morning* writing on a creative project. This does not mean writing a review, or checking e-mail, or reviewing Facebook. It means working on my novel or a short story. Then I do housework, run errands, and so on. Some time in there I go for a walk.** After my two hours is done, I can check Facebook. In the afternoon or evenings after dinner I write and post reviews, etc.
Doesn’t that sound, like, totally virtuous and creative, disciplined, and all that?
Actually, it kind of works. Writing a blog posting only barely qualifies as creative (I’m writing this in the second hour of my two-hour shift), but I have gotten drafts of three short stories written in the past two months. That is more than I had written, actual words, in the entire last year I was working. Please note that I am addressing quantity only, not quality.
Whoa… two hours! Marion, you are a writing fool! Never mind that guy in Maine, the one who writes for eight hours a day. What’s his name? Oh yeah, Stephen King. Never mind that. Never mind Jacqueline Winspeare, who writes “all morning” (because remember, she didn’t define it). Two hours, every day, that’s good, right?
Where does research go? Can that go into the two hours? No, it cannot. Research is an afternoon task. Why? Well, a lot of my research starts with Google. Once I’m on the Internet, I know I’ll have to check IO9 just to see what they have to say… and then I’ll end up on Facebook clicking Like and posting snarky comments and then I’ll decide to post some photos and then… More importantly, research does not engage the “creative” side of my brain.
And, to be honest, it isn’t exactly two hours. Sometimes it’s longer. Always, though, the first part of the shift is spent multi-tasking because I have to 1)make coffee; 2) drink coffee; 3) make oatmeal; 4) eat oatmeal; which I usually do while keyboarding. And, most of these sessions I am composing at the keyboard, which means I am missing the flow of words from a pen in a notebook.
This doesn’t stop me from walking to a coffee shop in the afternoon and writing while sipping a mocha; or going to the local library. I love our library and it’s a fun place to write. It looks cooler, though, if I’m writing on my laptop. Sigh. Decisions, decisions.
Walking… I need to do more of it. Walking now usually involves photography. I’m happy about that… but walking also gives my brain a chance to settle and often solves, or at least addresses, plot and character problems that have stonewalled me back at the keyboard.
All of this is good. Really, it feels like I’ve made a commitment here, I’m doing something useful. Now, the next phase; which is the hardest. Get some fiction ready and send it out.
*Yep, every day. Except usually Sunday. And sometimes not Thursday. And sometimes not Tuesday because that’s my designated day to sleep late. And sometimes not Saturday, if we decide to go do something. Other than those, every day.
**Or think about going for a walk. Or beat myself up because I haven’t gone for a walk. Or walking half a mile to get a coffee drink and taking the “long way” back, telling myself, “That counts as a walk, doesn’t it?”