The vacation from work that I wrote about last week didn’t last long. Writers are always working, even when we’re not corralling words to paper. We revise in our heads as we drive along the interstate. We eavesdrop on interesting conversations in the hope that we can use them somewhere. We jot down the perfect adjective that comes to mind when the waiter delivers a frothy drink with an umbrella. Maybe writers who claim to write 365 day per year actually do!
I’m figuring out my daily routine this week. From reading other writers and freelancers, I knew I needed to treat my return2writing as a full-time job. So my morning schedule hasn’t changed much at all. I’m up at the regular time getting ready for work. Reward myself with a cup of coffee after the shower. Listen to the news as I apply makeup. The only difference is I often drag on yoga clothes instead of business casual. And, instead of getting in my car, I simply walk a few feet to my desk, a bowl of Kashi and a second cup of coffee in hand. In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp states that the key to a productive day is a morning routine that never varies. It’s “as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration,” she declares.
First I get the Morning Pages (see earlier post) out of the way. I then set a timer and allow myself no more than 30 minutes to read the headlines on The Daily Beast, check Facebook and emails. After that, I set my timer for 90 minutes in which I work on a current project. After this amount of time, I have to get up and move. So I do household tasks, run errands or exercise. My workout time is flexible – it depends on what my overall schedule looks like for the day. Two mornings per week I meet a running group at 6:15. Other days I either do yoga or a choreographed bar lifting class, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes in the morning.
I usually manage to fit in two more 90 minute sessions at the desk. The good thing is that I can work in the evening if necessary because I no longer have kids at home. In other words, I have no excuse not to get the third session in. Today I happened to have my precious grandson for the afternoon. How great to have the flexibility to spend some unhurried time with him. I might get the third session in tonight, but if I don’t I will forgive myself. After all, I do have to bake chess bars for the library staff sometime this week. Aw, who am I kidding – rarely do I get to the third 90 minute session.
Other times during the day, I read about writing or peruse Writer’s Market, often working around appointments and lunches. Love the autonomy of not having to be “in the building” or at meetings at a certain time. A huge difference since I wrote in the 90s is the amount of information available on the web for writers, both struggling and veteran. Writers go the extra mile to support fellow writers. I regularly read two blogs which serve up meaty tips for writers: SheWrites and Girlfriends Book Club. Twitter has proven a major time suck for me. So instead of twittering I subscribe to Best Tweets for Writers Daily, a paper.li production published by Jane Friedman.
An organizational tool I’ve found extremely helpful is the Weekly Goal Sheet, also created by Friedman. It has sections for listing things you’d like to complete during the week vs what’s happening in your life which may interfere with your getting them done. Two sections offer psychological benefits. One asks me to list a task I’ve been avoiding, and this always leads to self-analysis. Why am I working on this post when I have an article to finish? The other is the Parking Lot, which is for jotting notes about non-writing stuff that pop to mind as I’m working. This allows me to stop worrying that I’ll forget to do something essential like buy dental floss, which in turn frees my brain to focus on writing. Check it out here. This beauty works for any profession.
Anyone else work from home? If so, please share tips or routines that are helpful to you.