Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Routine Matter

Routine. As an artist, routine is one of the most important tools in my artist’s toolbox. Routine — showing up daily to write — is what keeps my projects moving forward, ensures that I finish something. As a writer, routine is the lifeline I reach for when my schedule is thrown off kilter, and me along with it.

I’m reaching out for that lifeline now.

I spent September and the first 20 days of October criss-crossing the country, on a special assignment during the federal election campaign. Late nights. Early mornings. Long days. Just before being called for the assignment, I had started the rewrite process on a novel-length manuscript. I brought that project with me because I didn’t want it to stall. While I did some writing, most days I was too tired to concentrate. The project didn’t stall completely; it just moved along slowly, at a snail’s pace.

Now, I’ve been home for just over a week, returning to life as I once knew it. It’s a struggle. The biggest challenge I’m facing is my sleep. I wake up, believing that it’s morning, only to discover that it’s 3:10 am. I try to get back to sleep but don’t have much luck. So I lay there, and when I can’t stand tossing and turning any longer, I roll out of bed. By this time, it’s 4:30.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a routine. Up at 4:30. Brew coffee. Write Morning Pages. Do some writing. Shower. More writing/research. Lunch. A little more writing. Run/Go to the gym (depending on the weather). Prepare supper (making my way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, this can be a lengthy, but fun, process). Relax. Sleep (or try to).

Yes, it’s a routine, and it keeps the creative juices flowing. I might be a little tired at the moment, and at four in the afternoon I might struggle to keep my eyes open, but a routine — this routine — is helping me to lay track. Routine helps me to stay grounded and, when I’m feeling discouraged, to take the longer view, and that is this: I have created a life worth living because I’m doing what I love, writing. And I’ll keep on writing, holding steadfast to my routine. And that is why, wherever I may find myself, I am able to love the moment.

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