The importance of routine

by M.J. Hearle

Today, I want to discuss the importance of routine in your writing schedule. When I was writing Winter’s Shadow I was lucky enough to be (voluntarily) unemployed. Without knowing it I had formed a routine: every morning I would wake up, walk my girlfriend to work, come home, make breakfast, watch The Simpsons, have a shower, make some coffee and then and only then sit down at my desk to start writing. If I tried to vary this routine or skip a step I found it that much harder to get into the groove. Weekends especially were tough as my carefully ordered existence was thrown right out the window (I blame my girlfriend and her crazy urge to actually leave the house and you know? Do things). Even if I had free time on my hands it was incredibly hard to work because I couldn’t indulge all my peculiar little rituals beforehand. They had become intrinsic to my writing. It’s almost as though there were a series of mental barriers erected around the creative part of my brain and these rituals were my method of getting past the barriers.

When I started writing the sequel to Winter’s Shadow I was conscious of establishing a set routine before I typed a single word – get up early, have a shower, make a coffee, spend half an hour reviewing the previous day’s writing, then spend half an hour creating new material. I knew that from past experience the sooner I established a routine the sooner I could train whatever synapses and neural pathways responsible for my creativity to function more efficiently.

If you’re a writer, you probably have similar rituals you perform before getting down to work, rituals you might not even be aware of. I suggest identifying them, and respecting them as part of writing process. Don’t feel self-conscious if you can’t write without wearing your fluffy bunny slipper’s and half a pound of kabuki make-up slathered all over your face. Whatever you need to do to get the words flowing is fine by me.

M. J.