Friday, January 25, 2013

Can routine save the day?

Today I'm supposed to write about how sticking to a writing routine can save the day. Or not. That ties in perfectly to my January 4th post, in which I vowed to set a writing schedule for myself in an effort to find my way back into a middle grade novel project. I'd like to shout, "Yes! A schedule was exactly what I needed! I'm well into Chapter 5! Hallelujah!" That would be inspirational, wouldn't it? It would also be untrue.

For the first time in my writing life (16 years), I entered a new year feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects awaiting my attention. Hmm. Could I work on the novel for two hours per day, fitting other writing in around it? No. Turns out that, like Mary Ann, scheduled writing time makes me itchy. Plus, I'm much happier and more productive when focusing on one project at a time.

For a few weeks there, I just avoided my office. That led to many late-night struggles with monkey mind - our pastor's apt description for when you can't sleep because your thoughts keep jumping from one problem to another. Especially worrisome were three picture book projects editors were waiting for (no rush, but still). Throw in the same real life chores/business/family stuff we all deal with and you have enough stress to set anybody's teeth to grinding.

What finally worked to get me back on track was my old friend, list making. Prioritizing. And, hold the phone...what was that hovering down there at #6? Yep, the novel. So I've put it aside and begun chipping away at those projects higher on the list. And I've seen actual results.
                    1) A nonfiction picture book proposal is almost ready to go out the door.
                    2) A fiction pb has been tweaked per an editor's suggestions.
                    3) My messy pile of writing-related receipts stuffed into a drawer and ignored through most of 2012, otherwise known as "important stuff my husband's  going to ask for any minute while he gets tax info together," is now collated and  duly recorded and in perfect order. (He may faint.)

And I'm feeling much, much better about the situation. As are my jaws.

Routine has saved the day, at least in part. I spend most mornings in my office, chipping away at that list. For me, though, balance is imperative. So I opened another creative outlet. Months ago, I picked out fabric* for a quilt I wanted to make. I finally sketched a design, calculated the pieces I'd need, and got to work. Piecing a quilt, unlike writing, lets me see results quickly. I think - no, I know - that those afternoons in my basement sewing studio have been therapeutic.

                                                       *the centers of the squares look black in this pic, but they are 
                                                         actually a dark coffee brown.

And, #6? Don't worry, I see you down there. Hang tight. I'm on my way.

Jill Esbaum


Lisa Morlock said...

Good movtivation to set my own routine. Thank you, Jill!

Christie Wright Wild said...

Congrats on the quilt. It's nice to have something to help free your mind. That's why I run. Sometimes when I have a lot to do, and then I get yet another thing to do, it's my desire to do the new thing that finally pushes me to get the older things done. I guess it's akin to the homework first, play later bit.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Jill. Though I normally thrive on a schedule, that's not working with my current life situation. I'm going to try your list approach. Congrats on getting those receipts organized! And thanks for sharing the photo of your beautiful quilt.

Jill said...

Lisa, you're welcome!

Christie, yes, running would be great, too. With the added benefit of staying in shape! :)

Marti, Good luck, and you're welcome! It's only half-finished, but I'm getting there.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I have been struggling with prioritizing. I find it is a day to day struggle and I often have to revise those priorities. Wow. It's just like writing. Sounds like you are doing very well. Congratulations.

Jill said...

I often have to shift priorities, too. So many factors can throw off our best laid plans, no? I'm just happy if, at the end of a day, I've made some kind of progress.


laurasalas said...

Congrats, Jill! It's all about finding the routine that works best for each person, right? Love your quilt!

Jill said...

Thanks, Laura!


Unknown said...

What a great post! I have been visiting your wonderful blog off and on for a few years, but never commented. I'm always inspired though. Today, I'm inspired to add other creative projects into my writing routine. I've got a mobile started, and also a quilt I've been dreaming about, and taking breaks from thesis writing to work on those *is* therapeutic.

Jill said...

Yay! THANKS for coming out of lurkdom to comment. BEST of luck on the mobile and quilt!

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Beautiful quilt Jill! I think you've hit on the perfect combo: list prioritizing that includes time for a creative outlet. Great job!