8.19.2012

Seven Truths on the Art of Writing: Every Writer Needs Routine

I like routine. I have a touch of OCD in me, and I like the luxury of knowing when I'm going to have time set aside to get to work.

But that's what routine is for me: it's a luxury. 

When I'm in my "off" time at FSCJ, I try to carve out a few hours every morning to write, but even that is hit and miss. I have a daughter and a wife and dozens of other pressing issues, and the whole "I'm sorry, but this is my writing time" thing just isn't me. If Lyla wants to go to the park and I'm supposed to be at the computer (because I set some arbitrary time in my own mind), then I'm going to the park.

I'm fascinated by how writers approach the art of storytelling. There are some great stories out there about Stephen King, John Grisham, John Cheever, Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce that I absolutely love (whether they're true or not, I can't say). It's cool to think about these folks getting the work done.

But for me, I don't really need a routine. Hell, I don't even crave one. I just need some music and a soft light. I sneak twenty minutes here and twenty minutes there. It works. The stories still progress. I sometimes miss a week. Other weeks, I crank out 5,000 words. 

Looking ahead, I think I'll maybe only get a little time on Sundays to write fiction. That's just the reality of how my week is shaping up, with all the driving between Jacksonville and Orlando, and the reading demands I'm anticipating with my course load. 

But I often encounter folks that say they want to write, but they don't have the time to commit to a routine. Really, you don't need to do that to write. Some writers turn a book in every three months. Some do it every ten years. Each has an approach, and one isn't any better than the other.

King says that "Life is not a support system for art. It's the other way around." Think about the next time you fret over getting your word count in at a certain time. If something else is pretty important at that time, attend to it first and just come back to the writing later, without guilt, when the time is right.

The writing will be there for you. Trust me, it'll always be there for you...

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