Routine: ahhh, how I love thee. And loathe thee. In the world of kids and writing (also known as chaos?!) routine is one of those things you absolutely need and can come to resent.We’ve been moving so much the last few years I have been craving routine like a person living on fast food for every meal – fast life, fast food, get it? I mean, it’s been a blast, at times, don’t get me wrong, but a person needs some healthy stuff every now and then. So, once we settled ourselves on a country to live in (a good place to start I thought) then it was all about getting our scattered lives into order.
I’m concerned, right about now, that a post about routine is pretty unsexy. How can I make something so mundane blog-worthy? Repeat the fact that it is important? That a disordered life feels like a day without a vegetable? Kinda crazy, potentially fun but just plain wrong? What I have come to notice about a routine, which is getting me pretty pumped these days, is that it can give rise to awesome productivity. I hadn’t quite expected that and I’m thrilled it’s turning out this way. When I got my three days a week of childcare sorted out* I wasn’t sure I’d be productive during them or if I’d fall asleep in the library (B2 is still not keen on sleeping; she prefers that we didn’t either). Perhaps I would stare at the wall hopelessly or develop a youtube watching habit? All possible. But, so far, none of those things have happened and – I know this is not a unchanging situation because it just doesn’t work like that but – writing + routine is treating me very, very well. I’m writing hard and fast, sometimes feeling as though I am sprinting to keep up with myself, racing towards my deadline before I have to leap into the car and head back home to the babettes. Some days I am plain exhausted when I get home, realizing I didn’t have any lunch and perhaps drinking water would be a good idea?! I’ve never worked so furiously before and all I can say is – it’s all because of the routine. Unsexy, unglamorous routine.
But can creativity thrive in a strictly routined eco-system? Will it flower and then die? How to sustain it? Great questions! (Yes, I know, I posed them myself – hence, they are great questions. See?)
For me – routine absolutely does needs a counter-balance. If I do exactly the same thing every day, eat exactly the same breakfast, write in exactly the same place, I will literally go insane. I start to get a weird restlessness that boils up inside, all toxic and writhing. I’m wont to do mad things like cut off all my hair or go on a crazy bender or something equally repressed-childhood-star-like. Okay, so I never actually do any of these things, but I think about them a lot and I seethe and sulk, which is really unpleasant for everyone, myself included.
So. These are the routines I am currently keeping – I write three days a week, I write for one project only, I write till my eyes go all blurry and my stomach growls. I eat this cereal most mornings because it is quite tasty and I don’t have to soak it overnight. I like watching this on a Friday night. I wear Trade Aid blue felt slippers in the evening. Yup, I’m an old lady.
And then… these are the routines I break…. ALL OF THEM. Last week I watched a movie on Friday instead of writing because it was freezing cold, the library wifi was screwed and I was tired and cranky. After my sister’s baby shower on the weekend I have taken to eaten the leftover marshmallows for breakfast and I won’t get to see Graeme Norton this Friday because I am going out. Like a young person. I might even be wearing heels instead of those slippers (although I’ll probably be thinking about them. They’re really really comfy slippers.) Bam! Routines – smashed!
So – in your world – which routines are absolutely critical and which do you disregard? Which ones make life better and which ones are suffocating? Do you go ahead and break all your routines every now and then like I do? Just to feel in charge?
HUGS, Hannah x
*The fact that I get to write three days a week is kind of nuts and very, very, very lucky. Most writers, in case you were wondering, have full-time jobs AND family responsibilities AND writing careers. It’s like juggling ten balls, fifteen plates and a barking chihuahua. While trying to look cheerful. Right, Ria? x