Friday, 1 April 2011

Change of Routine

I usually write at Second Cup in the mornings, from 7 to 8, give or take 15 minutes either way.  I crank out at least a thousand words when writing, or edit two to five pages, depending on how bad the first draft was (sometimes atrocious.  Would make my editor faint.)

But coffee houses are banding against productive mornings.  I'm certain of this.  Oh sure, they offer you coffee and a seat, two main necessities for productivity, but then they offer... free wireless.  A most evil of evils.  When my writing's not going well, I'm tired or feeling like procrastinating, I love the Internet.  So very, very much.

Not great for the word count, though.  I'd managed to curb this by giving myself ten minutes of play, then writing the rest of the time.  It was working, more or less.  When I feel really weak, I just bring a notebook and pen, leaving my fateful laptop Utnois at home to rest. Then I get frustrated because the pen is too slow, unless I'm just playing with ideas. When you blow up as much stuff as I do in a book, you have to write fast enough to keep up with the explosions.

I usually know when I'm going to be weak, too.  As I rush through my morning routine, aiming not to look like a zombie by the time I reach downtown (50% success rate), I plan my writing session.  Who's going to die, what's going to blow up, which dream will I destroy... you know, the usual stuff.  But, if instead of planning death and destruction I'm instead thinking: "I wonder what so-and-so is up to," or "Maybe so-and-so updated their blog," or again "I should study everything there is to know about the royal family for the past few centuries in case I missed something good," then I can guess it's not going to be a productive day.

I'm all about psyching myself. My brain's manageable in the morning. It's like a big fresh lump of clay, ready to be moulded (except it doesn't hold shapes for long.  Very sad).

Growing tired of having to think about what I'm going to think about later, I decided to switch up my routine.  I've been spending my mornings at a different coffee shop (gasp!), writing with other members of my writing group, the East Block Irregulars.  We're all sci-fi/fantasy published authors, and the critiques I get there are amazingly useful.

So now my mornings are spent at Bridgehead.  I like their coffee, so it's okay.  Their wireless is free but requires a code, which I never get.  The other writers and I, we don't talk until the writing's done.  Well, we say hi.  That's about it. We sit and write.  It's awesome.  It makes me feel accountable.  In one week alone, I managed to add 10,000 words of missing scenes to my poor, poor manuscript.  And my morning sessions were definitely a big help!

I've always advocated changing routine when "writer's block" strikes (in quotation marks because, well, you can figure it out by your lonesome).  Turns out I give good advice!  :P

I know lunchtime writers, morning writers, evening writers and night owls, and all have routines that work for them. I hope you find the routine that works for you, and a lifestyle that supports the writing.  Well worth it.  In the end, it's all about your dedication, or "how bad you want it," as one of my friends puts it.

And the coffee.  It's definitely about the coffee, too.