Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Routine or Rut? by Morgan Mandel

Do you find yourself doing the same things at the same time, day after day? A lot of people follow a certain routine, especially those like me who hold down day jobs. Many of us need to be at work at a certain time, and leave work at a certain time. That means going to bed by a certain time also to be able to repeat the cycle again the next day. On weekends, I tend to follow the same pattern of waking up, since my body is used to that schedule.

I walk the dog right away in the morning, as soon as I get home from work, then let her out a few times each night into our fenced yard.

I like to eat the same food for breakfast, go to the same place for lunch since it's convenient, and rotate the same dinner kind of foods. Friday night is often pizza or gyros night.

Routines can be good or bad. A routine that is so solidly ingrained that it's very difficult to change, I call a rut. It's hard to get out of a rut, but it's worth the effort. I'm in one, but am starting to break free. I've been spending loads of time on promotion and social networking, because frankly, it's a lot of fun. Still, that's not getting my novel finished. It's hard to promote a new book if that book isn't done.

So, I'm not going to spend as much time on promotion as before. I'm spending more time on serious writing. I promise.

What about you? Are you in a rut? Or are you following a disciplined routine?

15 comments:

cindy.maher said...

I'd say I'm in a rut. But this isn't a good time for me, the tail ed of the school year. I'm always a little blue at this point in time and have been since my oldest son completed his kindergarten year back in 1994.

I've been thinking about ruts and routines too, so this came at a good time for me.

Celia Yeary said...

MORGAN--hmm, interesting. But I know I'm in a routine.I've always lived, coped and operated in a routine. We both took early retirement, and that was quite a few years ago. Still, we wake up as though we need to get dressed and go to our respective places of employment. We eat the same kinds of foods, everything as you say. I don't want it any other way. But when we travel--more long road trips now than flying across the ocean--I leave all that behind (okay, I can't live without my computer, I just don't do much on it.)On the days or weeks away from home, my mind clears of the clutter of promo, e-mail messages, blogs, all that stuff. Usually, with my mind free, I create a new story, a plot, or an idea for one. I've often done this riding down the highway while my dh drives and I have a notebook, scribbling away. Celia

Terry Odell said...

We've just moved. I'm sure I'll be digging new ruts as I adjust to everything. Right now, with work being done inside the house, routine is well-nigh impossible.

StephB said...

How about a routine rut? Does that count? *grin*

To a certain extent I enjoy my routines because they give me the consistency I need. Where I find the rut is making the time for actual writing as time is precious and I do a lot around the house and with the kids. Still, I find time to move forward - slowly - stealing minutes when I do.

I just wish there was more time in the day. *smiles*
Steph

Maggie Toussaint said...

I like my routines, and when things get out of whack, which they frequently do around here, I long for the return of routine.

I think that as long as what you are doing energizes you, you're doing okay. I enjoy the comfort of a routine. That's who I am.

www.maggietoussaint.com

Blythe Gifford said...

John Updike, I believe, thought that writers should eat the same thing every day. I think habit, even a rut, can be a writer's friend. If you train yourself to show up at the computer at the same time every day, that will become the routine that gets the writing done!

unwriter said...

I retired. I got out of the rut. I can't do routine. Everything gets done better and faster for me if I don't put it on a to-do schedule.

Mona Risk said...

I am definitely a routine person. I have a daily list of to-dos neatly written and crossed as I perform dutifully. My friends know exactly where to find me at different times of the day. Yes, I am that predictable. Except when my DH takes me away from everything on an new trip or a crazy adventure.

Coco said...

To me, the word, "rut" seems negative and the word, "routine," positive. If I find myself in a rut, I determine what steps I need to take to get out of it. Then for the next week, I take those steps, and before I know it, I'm out! Works for me!

Katie Hines said...

I think I need to be more in a rut than not at this point in my writing career. My schedule has been all over the place, but I have very recently given myself permission to leave the emails and stuff that "has to be done" so that I can work on my current novel.

Cheryl said...

I'm a routine type person. I couldn't manage all I do without one. Morning emails, promote tour stops, search for bloggers and make contacts, check emails, work on other writing projects, then stop when the kids get home. It picks up again after they are in bed, which is when I usually post to my blogs for the next day. Then I read in the tub before bed.

It all comes together. My own writing time isn't enough, but that might change at some point. I'm still making good progress on my WIP, so I'm happy.

Cheryl

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Oh, Morgan, The cozy comfort of a routine rut sounds heavenly! I require routine when writing--esp. first drafts, but now I'm in promo mode. That means social networking, blogging, even joined Second Life ("My mom's geekier than I am," my computer engineer son said.) The learning curve is so steep i told my husband that every night I feel like I've climbed a mountain. I think it's supposed to be good for preserving brain cells--if it doesn't kill me!

Meg said...

Routines. Ridged routines that if broken throw my world into temporary turmoil.

But that's mainly due to my OCD.

If I have a routine I don't like, or one that just isn't working, I take a week to slowly change it.

One I do hate is that my dog has gotten used to waking up around 6 everyday. Even the one day I can sleep in...

I am in a mini rut with what I make for dinner. I keep rotating the same things. I'll searching cookbooks and the internet for new ones, I usually have a new dish at least once every two weeks.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My schedule is pretty erratic, so a routine isn't always feasible. However, I admit, I'm in a bit of a rut at the moment...

liana laverentz said...

Every day is different for me, and an adventure. I never know which direction it will go. Sometimes it changes from moment to moment. However, I do love some rituals, such as those during church. They ground me somehow, keep me sane for the rest of the week.