Ritual and Routine

Nothing is sacred. In the book Several short sentences about writing, author Verlyn Klinkenborg tells aspiring writers to let go of the need for prerequisites; the need for things to be a certain way in order to write. “Solitude, The early light of Morning, A cup of coffee in just the right cup” are a few of the examples given. Klinkenborg concludes the thought with: “Learn to write anywhere, at any time, in any conditions [sic], with anything, starting from nowhere.” 

This is both brilliantly appealing, and contradictory to my own precious method. So of course I had to give it a try! Consequently, I’ve written on a borrowed computer, software different from my usual. I’ve gone from insisting on quiet and solitude, to writing in a hotel bar overlooking a bustling lobby. And presently, I no longer step out to a co-working space (a.k.a the library). I’m writing at home, even while my wife works here.

On the first day in my new workspace, a tone beckoned me, announcing clean, wet laundry. I like to start a load of laundry while I’m getting breakfast ready for the kids—either completing the entire process before leaving to write, or ending my writing prematurely, as tasks await. A small change in workflow should correct this disruption. Except the disruption proved not unwelcome: breaking away to transfer the laundry, my mind remained focused on the piece I was writing. I discovered I often return to the keyboard with a solution, or simply refreshed from the brief respite. This time away aids more than it hinders. Because a good deal of writing happens while away from the keyboard.

Few chores can be integrated this way, and that’s fine. For those that can’t, I put on an audiobook (frequent reading also inherent in writing), and take a legitimate break. I now often write in two daily sessions; something I’d never done when a location change was involved.

The lesson here is to mix things up—see what works. Routines have merit, particularly when starting something new. But we often outgrow them. If we don’t notice, they become a hinderance. Have your rituals, have your routines. But regard them with skepticism. Test them every now and then. It just may be time for a change.

2 responses to “Ritual and Routine”

  1. “Because a good deal of writing happens while away from the keyboard.”

    Love it!!


    1. Another of Klinkenborg’s seemingly countless gems of wisdom.


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