It’s hard not to get caught up in a routine. Morning coffee, homework, working out, household chores – no matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in, you probably have a routine that works for you. Routines are mindless, easy. They take the worry and thinking out of life – just plod along the well-worn path and you’ll be fine. Everything will get done. But is the old way always the best way?
When I first started writing my first book Rising Star, I thought it would be my only book. It was such a mind-boggling undertaking, I didn’t know if I would even finish it. But the more I deeper I got into the writing process, I realized the book would have to be broken up into three installments or risk being longer than War and Peace. So I became the writer of a series rather than a book that I never imagined I’d finish, let alone get published.
Never having written anything before the writing process was not comfortable. But the more I wrote, I discovered what worked for me. I wrote at certain times of the day, certain days of the week, even wearing certain clothes (lucky sweatpants) to get the job done. The more I sunk into the routine, the more grounded I felt in my writing. Now that I am writing Chapter Three for the final installment of the series, I am actually starting to feel like a writer!
For my last two books, I wrote freely, throwing every idea onto the page as it struck me and sorting through it all during a many-leveled editing process. It was tedious, laborious, but produced two solid books, with any material edited out of the first book being used in the second book. When I was about to start on the third book, I figured if “it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and I anticipated the same process I’ve done for the previous two books.
But sitting at my computer with a blank screen before me, I caught a glimpse of the months of writing ahead of my followed by an editing process that has been traditionally double the writing time. I decided to try something new – write like I’m writing the final product.
It goes against my normal writing philosophy – usually my first draft is “shoveling sand into the box” and the editing process is building bigger and better sandcastles with each subsequent draft. But by being more thoughtful of the words I write and spending more time writing fewer pages each day, my first three chapters are more polished and refined on my first draft then they have been for my two previous books.
It’s a strange feeling, but I love the challenge! Being more precise in my writing requires me to be more aware of my story before I write. Sometimes I opt to take time off from writing schedule to work on my plot and this has been extremely helpful. Changing up my method and routine has been inspiring and I feel writing my third book is an entirely different experience. The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been pleasantly surprising so I’m going to ride this new wave and see where it takes me.
So I highly recommend switching up your routine, breaking out of whatever mold you’re in and seeing the task before you in a different light. Maybe you’ll find a new way to look at things or maybe you’ll enjoy the task more. Or maybe, just maybe, you will amaze yourself in a whole new way.