I retired from full time employment in March this year, and to all intents and purposes I should be a crazy writing fiend by now, instead of this on again off again writing rollercoaster on which I find myself. I have felt a bit adrift without the day-to-day routine of getting up at 6am and returning home at 6.30pm. Strangely though, back then I seemed to still have the time to write. Now with all the time in the world the words are minimal. I am trying very hard to work out what does work, and what does not work to get my creative juices flowing.
Plotting does not seem to work for me. A famous writer said that when he plotted he felt as if he had already written the story, so why bother. I have had this happen to me too, so I can sympathize with his statement.
However, I have found that this current book requires a huge amount of plotting, because it has a mystery within the romance. Now, I will come clean and say I had no idea it was going to be a mystery . . . I am a pantser, and as such, the stories appear on the page and are just as much of a surprise to me as any reader. Imagine my horror when I have had to “PLOT” the mystery scenes. So of course my brain ventured into procrastination mode of the most serious kind. I think I ate my way through quite a few packets of Walkers Scottish shortbread, and chocolate was purchased in the “family” size block, just for little ol’ me. Of course this only resulted in adding kilos to my derriere, and NOT words to my manuscript.
So I have searched my soul to try and work out where I was going wrong. I have concluded I need structure in my day. Several types of structure actually.
Exercise: I now try to walk half an hour to an hour each day. It may not seem like much, but it is a start. I have started a diet and wonder upon wonders, this past week I have stuck to it, and NOT had anything sweet or biscuit-like in my daily food intake.
Unclutter: I am trying to tidy up and clear out some old clothes and shoes from my very packed walk-in-robe. I have discovered about thirty pairs of shoes (mostly black) which have either been worn a couple of times or never worn at all. This is due to issues with swelling in my feet and ankles, and so I kept buying shoes to accommodate, and then forgetting them when buried in my wardrobe. So now some friends and my daughter have some new shoes they can dance around in, and I don’t feel so bad about them laying unloved in shoe boxes.
Routine: I pick up my grandchildren and look after them two days a week. On those days I now park the car early at school to incorporate my walk before school pick up. I look forward to those days of spending time teaching my grandchildren about fractions and multiplication, and listening to my six year old reading like a wee champion. My eight year old loves to read, always happy to have books as gifts, and goes through books very quickly, much to my delight. His vocabulary is extensive, and his spelling ability is way in advance of mine at his age. The kids keep me busy, I enjoy the time with all the family at dinner, and most importantly, I am needed.
Coffee catch ups: Keeping in touch with writer friends, and taking time to socialise with others is food for your creativity. Movies, theatre, chats on the phone or in person, other artistic interests, all help to get the creative juices flowing.
Energy: This is the last part of the puzzle I need to incorporate into my routine. I need to lift my energy levels in order to maintain the enthusiasm in my writing. A good night’s sleep is important for creativity, so a routine bedtime is a must.
Going forward, I think the walking and monitoring what I eat will help enormously.
To conclude my musings this morning, I am trying to work out what is good for my productivity as a writer. Each of you must work out what works, what does not, what energises and what derails you.
When we get right down to the nitty-gritty, we write because we love it.