Routine and creativity

Many worthy (and not so worthy) writing handbooks tell you that establishing a writing routine is the best thing to do to ensure you keep at it. This is easier said than done. It is also subject to change, I’ve noticed.

When I was writing the first draft – those heady days of NaNoWriMo – I came in from work and the gym, sat down and bashed out a few thousand words and went to bed. With rewriting, the routine has been different. But is has taken me a while to accept that.

I wanted to continue the routine – it had been successful so why change? But it had been successful because I wasn’t thinking as much about what I was writing : the goal was quantity not quality.

A contributing factor is work. I spend my days staring at a computer screen and the last thing I want to do when I come in is go back to that. This, I think, is probably the reason many people give up or just have writing as a pipe dream. Your eyes hurt, you just want to sit down with a beer and enjoy your family, friends or The Simpsons.

To get round this, my new routine is this: I go to work, sometimes scribbling a few notes down in my handbag notebook, I go to the gym/ Creative Nottingham meeting/ reading group/ meet a friend* and then I go home. Once at home I potter about and then do something crafty – at the moment it’s knitting but I have a host of things lined up for the summer – including felt, other sewing projects, bookmarks, books and who knows what else. Somewhere between 11 and 12 I go to bed. But not before I’ve scribbled some more notes about the scene I’ve been thinking about while doing the crafty stuff.

On Saturdays (and Bank Holidays) I sit down to write properly with a range of notebooks and scraps of paper sitting in front of me. The hard work – the writing – has been done, it’s transferring it to the page and rewriting it in the process that is all I have to do now. Coffee to one side, birdsong through the window and eyes that aren’t aching from a day staring at a computer.

The process of creating something, anything – in this case craft, though sometimes also food – helps with thinking through the hard bits I’ve got left. It moves you to a different mental state and it’s easier to find the words you’ve been waiting for. I also like the idea of writing on paper – the old fashioned part of the writing craft that I thought I’d left behind.

So this weekend – a baby blanket, an experimental series of felt brooches, a pair of knitted socks, some fabric postcards and bookmarks, chocolate cake and more scenes. I’ve been saying I’m near the end of this draft for weeks – I really am. It’s just taking its time to come. I might manage it this weekend. If not, I’ll just get knitting…

(*delete as appropriate)

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