Just as some footballers follow a routine and feel compelled to eat spaghetti or put their left sock on first lest the game may be lost, it is said many writers adhere to a routine.
As a young mum I was told that babies find security in routine and to some extent I think adults do too – e.g. we brush our teeth at night before going to bed and we like our tea or coffee a certain way. So for the purposes of this blog, I began to look at routines.
Dr Heidi Grant Halvorsen, a social scientist and psychologist has written a book called 'Succeed' and in it she explains, "Routines remove the need to deliberate over what you should do (which takes time and energy) because once you've established a routine you have already made those decisions."
She has some interesting things to say about motivation and the- not- feeling- like-doing- something-syndrome such as, not feeling like finishing that novel or not feeling like redrafting that chapter. The link to her website is here. http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/
Returning to writers and their routines, there is myriad information on the often quirky practices.
Consider, Anthony Trollope who wrote from 5-30am – 8-30am and believed that he must write 250 words per quarter hour. This exactitude worked as he completed 49 novels in 35 years whilst working in a post office during the day.
John Grisham, at the beginning of his writing career would set his alarm for 5am. He tells how he had to shower and be seated at his desk no later than 5-30am. With his first cup of coffee and a legal pad to hand, the first word had to be written at exactly 5-30am. It was fortunate his office was only five minutes away as this is where he spent the remainder of the day working as a lawyer.
The strangest routine I came across and one that as a nurse causes me to shake my head in horror is that of W.H Auden. It said he took Benzedrine every day for twenty years to stimulate his writing brain and barbiturates (Seconal) to sleep. He was not alone in this practise according to the article linked below.
All of this makes my routine of waking early, doing the mandatory jobs of feeding dogs, cat, children & husband – not necessarily in that order, seem very tame! Once the tribe has left for the day and the house is quiet, I can begin. Radios and televisions are turned off, my laptop is turned on and the coffee is made.
I was told many years ago that three games of solitaire will stimulate the creative brain and I admit to being ever hopeful and following this practise. Then, if the muse is with me, off I go and the wonderful transition into the writing world begins.
Please share your routines here- don't be shy! Let's see what we do or don't have in common as a group.