Spring Cleaning: Your Writing Routine

Beach Head (G.I. Joe)

The other half of the battle is guns. (G.I. Joe) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you haven’t heard, Google Reader is going tits up sometime in July. Seems that the service is only used by a relatively small, if dedicated and somewhat insane, minority, and Google doesn’t feel it offers anything to the general public.

Guess who’s a member of that minority.

I am addicted to information. New stuff, old stuff, different stuff, the same stuff but turned upside down…you name it. And Google Reader was one of my primary information delivery systems.* It managed about fifty percent of my information streams, seriously cutting down on the time I needed to spend going out and finding shit. Learning to use it was the agriculture to my earlier hunter-gatherer style: it gave me more time to devote to other things, like culture, written language, and the development of city states run by the Spider God.**

But instead of rending my clothes and organizing a march on the Google offices, I decided to take this as an opportunity. My old system was going away? Fine. Time to experiment with some new ones.

The net result of this is that I spent about half the weekend looking through all my automated systems, information delivery and otherwise, and seeing if they could be better. No system is so perfect that it doesn’t benefit from experimentation. Even if you just go back to the old way, at least you know something that doesn’t work. And G.I. Joe taught us all that knowing is half the battle.

A routine can be great. It can provide structure to the otherwise structureless, which can be very helpful when doing something as fundamentally ephemeral as writing. But never make the mistake of thinking that the structure is anything other than a tool for ensuring something gets done. And, like all tools, there are other versions and upgrades, some of which might improve your experience.

And there can be other benefits. For example, I run most efficiently—that is to say, my fastest times—in the afternoon, so usually I run in the afternoon. But yesterday morning I got up and ran before breakfast, just for the hell of it. It was harder, and my time wasn’t as good, but I started the day feeling amazing from the endorphin rush. Plus, I didn’t have to make sure I left time for a workout later. Both times offer different, but still very good, results.

Experiment with your routine. You write in the evening? Try getting up early on a Saturday and writing in the morning, just to see what happens***. Edit a draft all at once? Try breaking it up into short chunks. Only write science fiction? Try a romance. Shake it up. Your routine will always be there if you want to go back to it. But it never hurts to stretch your legs a little.

*Information delivery systems trump even caffeine delivery systems in my day.
**I may need to review my books from my anthropology minor.
***’Just to see what happens’ is pretty much the reason I do everything.

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