Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Writing Routine

Having hit a bit of a block lately, I was challenged by a dear friend to examine the way I go about writing. It’s become my understanding that nearly all artists benefit from a habitual sequence that aids them in their creative process. Though, many of us are only partially conscious of this. We know we need peace and quiet, so we aim for a time of day that’s most conducive to it. We migrate to our personal ‘workspace’, which is really more of a haven for inspiration that happens to be either decorated or buried under clutter. And then, once we’re good and comfortable, we attempt to get something accomplished.

It’s getting into the ‘groove’ that everyone seems to vary the most on. I have friends who absolutely –have- to exercise before they get down to business, or their creative efforts start out about as promising as herding a pack of squirrels. One particular friend of mine prefers to write out a chapter draft by hand first, before transferring it to the computer. Not only does she hand-write it, she does so using a particular olive-wood pen, which she otherwise keeps in the special box it came in. Let us pray she doesn’t lose that magical pen.

Considering this concept more fully, I decided to make note of my own little rituals throughout the last week or two, hoping for a clearer understanding of my own creative process. With only a small degree of variability, my cycle seems to be as follows:

1.) Make tea. (Green, red, jasmine, chai, chamomile… it doesn’t seem to matter, as long as it’s hot.)
2.) Sit down at computer and, while drinking said tea, proceed to check all three emails and facebook, just to eliminate the nagging sensation that there is something else I should be doing.
3.) Play one turn of internet Scrabble.
4.) Write several lines of a poem I have no intention of getting back to.
5.) Finally begin work on a chapter, continuing until I face-plant into the keyboard.
6.) Work on chapter every conscious moment until it is complete.(Average 1-3 days)
7.) Cuss, growl, mope, wallow in low-self-esteem, and otherwise agonize over how to begin the next chapter. (Average 1-5 days.)
8.) Clean, do laundry, shop, draw, and go back to revise several previous chapters, all while not-so-cleverly avoiding a start on the next chapter. (Average 1-3 days)
9.) One or all of the following: Yell, throw something, blame the cats, go for a long walk, or have a good cry.
10.) Wash, rinse, repeat.

There you have it. I apparently have my own little ten step program. Now that I look at it, I think I can probably streamline the whole process by trimming out the Scrabble and the crying. If I can get away with that, I’ll be sure to report my findings. >.>

So, what’s YOUR routine?

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