Why a Routine is Important

by Pat White




     Working from home can be, in a word, challenging.  Between the dogs barking at the dust balls floating across the floor, the cats sending faxes to China, the teenagers inviting the neighborhood kids in for Hot Pockets and Doritos, things arenít exactly quiet at my house. 

     Which is why a regular routine is essential.

     When developing a routine, start by doing a personal inventory of your writing habits.  Are you most productive first thing in the morning, late at night, or during the afternoon?  Iím referring to the first draft writing aspect of the process because for me, revising can be done anytime.

     ve resigned myself to the fact that, for me, writing in the morning is about effective as skating on quicksand.  It just ainít happening.  Keep track of when you get the most pages written, the time of day youíre really in the zone, and see if thereís a pattern.  Capitalize on your physiologyís natural routine; donít fight it.  Yes, that means if youíre most productive between three and seven in the afternoon the kids are going to have to make their own dinner. 

     Once youíve figured out when you get your best work done, carve out that piece of your day, every day, to write. 

     Letís say youíre a morning writer (I envy you).  Set your alarm and get up and write your pages for whatever hours youíve designated.  Have lunch about the same time every day, take your afternoon walk at the same time, etc.  Developing a routine stimulates the habit of writing.

     What can you do to respect your natural routine?  Iíll suggest paying attention to the food you eat.  Honestly, Iíve noticed I need a nap shortly after ingesting simple carbs (sugars, white flour, etc).  Do certain foods affect you in different ways?  I find that protein, veggies and fruits are brain food for me. 

     Also, pay attention to what triggers your muse.  A few things that come to mind:  listening to music, taking a daily walk, reading poetry andÖvacuuming (Iím not kidding.)  Somehow the mindless motion of sucking up tumbleweeds of dog and cat hair seems to stimulate my brain. (Sorry, Iím not coming to your house).  Donít dismiss mindless activity.  Think of it as a tool to detach your creative mind from the ever-present critic that lives just beneath the surface, the one that intimidates you into NOT writing your pages. 

     In my opinion, a routine helps train your brain to tell your body whatís next on the agenda. 

     Every day at exactly 6:30 p.m., my golden retriever sits in the middle of the kitchen, waiting for his arthritis pill.  Itís his routine.   Wouldnít it be great if at 9 a.m., every day, your brain automatically clicked into writing mode and words spilled out onto the page?  Itís possible. You just have to create a routine in sync with your bodyís natural physiology.

     Good luck!

Pat White struggles to stick to her daily routine and usually wins, especially when sheís on deadline.  She writes romantic suspense for Harlequin and romantic comedy for Dorchester.  She has two fall releases: SILENT MEMORIES (September, Harlequin Intrigue) and LOVE ON THE ROPES (October, Love Spell).  Check her out at www.patwhitebooks.com.

For more of Pat's titles, visit our Fiction Bookstore.

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