Coffee, Create, Repeat: Planning Chaos

My schedule is not that different from this. I even schedule a nap some days.

I have a daily routine: get up, read articles, drink coffee, get dressed*, write, exercise, lunch, shower, edit. Nearly all of the aforementioned activities are accompanied by music and the occasional caffeinated beverage. It sounds boring. That’s because it is. And that’s by design.

The less random daily shit I have to devote brain power to, the more space gets freed up for actual creativity. In other words, every second I don’t spend deciding if I’m going to read articles before or after my run is a second that I can use to think of reasons why my main villain seemingly devoted his entire life to being a giant douche. You know, the important stuff.

People think creativity is all about chaos: the endless swirl of energy that moves ideas around in your head and makes you spew them out on the page or the canvas or the eight-track**. And, you know, that’s part of it. But only part. Because the secret is to balance chaos with order. Very little gets created when you’re standing in front of the open fridge, wondering if you should have lunch now or later.

And then there’s the matter of time management. If your writing routine consists of ‘sitting down whenever I feel like it and scribbling down a few words before not looking at it for a month’, then you’re not going to produce as much work as someone with a more regular routine. Because of that, what you do produce will likely be of lower quality as well. Not because of talent, but because in order to get better at something you have to work at it consistently. I started a routine a couple of years ago, and the improvements I’ve seen in my writing in that span of time have kicked the living shit out of the improvements I saw in the years before when I was flailing around and figuring things out.

Now, what ‘consistently’ means to you is variable. I have to write five days out of seven, but I often do more because I want to. A lot of weeks I write every day. But not everyone likes to do that, even if they can. Maybe you’re a Saturday writer. And that’s fine. Maybe your routine involves getting up at 2 am to paint yourself with chocolate frosting and run naked through your neighbour’s backyard. And that’s fine, too.*** Whatever your routine is, just make sure it works—i.e., it makes you write.

And don’t forget to break your own rules every now and then. It’s a routine, not a prison sentence.

* I don’t like working in my pyjamas, though since I work from home, I totally could if I wanted to. That’s right: I’m just throwing that opportunity away because I can.
**I know there are artists out there who record on vinyl; is there anyone who’s doing eight-tracks?
***Just stay out of my backyard. I’ve placed bear traps.

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7 thoughts on “Coffee, Create, Repeat: Planning Chaos

  1. Side note: I almost didn’t do a post today, because I helped a friend move yesterday and I’m tired. But since it was right there on the schedule and I had no real good reason not to do it, I wrote one anyway. It would have been much easier to talk myself out of it if there was no schedule.

    Sometimes writing is nothing more than playing the shell game with your own brain.

  2. This was actually a really unique way of looking at this. Having set aside chunks of time devoted to writing has always been a goal for me, but somehow I always manage to find something else to distract me. Thanks to you, I now resolve to stop doing that!

    Question: when you come back from lunch and edit, are you editing what you just wrote? Yesterday’s writing? Last month’s writing?

    • It varies depending on deadlines. The hierarchy is:
      -stuff I’m getting paid for that’s due
      -stuff that’s due
      -stuff I’m getting paid for that’s not due yet
      -stuff for other people
      -stuff for myself
      -stuff for lolz

      I don’t usually edit that day’s writing that afternoon unless I have to, though. But sometimes I have to. And sometimes I blow off the hierarchy if there’s something I really want to do.

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