I’m writing this blog entry at a Starbucks in Shanghai that requires a steep fee for internet usage—so forgive me for not posting in real time, but I’d rather pay for another hot chocolate than check my email. I can do that when I get home and post this (which, having traveled through space and time, is now).
There’s a certain importance to having a routine while writing. People always talk about it—training your mind to take off at a certain place, at a certain time. Having that “room of your own”, or that quiet corner in a coffee shop; or your chair in the closet (tried that once, but it was very dark), or the living room, or wherever, whenever.
I have a beautiful library to work inside, back home—but, much to my dismay, it hasn’t yet become my little word nest. I want it to be, desperately, but I think I need to rearrange the furniture. Or put screens up around my desk. Something to do with feng shui. I write well there, but sporadically. And when you’ve got deadlines like I do, consistency is the key. Even if what you’re writing is consistent crap.
Maybe I just write better outside the house. Maybe the process of walking, or taking a cab to a different location—as though I’m truly going to work, like at an office, gives me the mental transition my brain needs to fire up all engines. Maybe I need to set up a miniature walking labyrinth on the floor of my library (winding circles to reach my desk), or find some similar ritual to unlock the process. Maybe I just need to tell myself to snap out of it. ‘Cause, like, dude—crazy is, as crazy does.
I could work at the local public library. Or go to the little coffee shop at the gorgeous old hotel that’s only ten minutes away. I get lazy when I’m home. I like to stay in my pajamas. Maybe that’s my problem. I should get dressed, put on the fixings. Meet the day with mascara and tight blue jeans.
Whatever. Point is, each writer has a system and a comfort zone, and some of us are a little superstitious, some are totally no-nonsense, others are kind of neurotic—and there are those, like me, who suffer from all three, on different days. I’ve heard athletes are like that. Rituals, before each game.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. I’m still seated at Starbucks. I write well here. I don’t write well at every Starbucks, but this is a good one, the atmosphere is homey. I’ll miss it when I stop coming to Shanghai—but all those books, or parts of books that I wrote here, will be evidence of my time in my favorite seat by the window (and all those hot chocolates I drank).
Like I said in my previous post, the end of the year is rolling around. I’ve been thinking about my process, and what I want—and need. I’ve been writing professionally for about five years. A lot has happened. I won’t speculate where I’ll be five years from now—life throws too many surprises for that—but I know my routines and the types of books I write will change.
Routines are important, but not to the point of stagnation. We never stop figuring ourselves out, or learning new ways to be in the world. Don’t hold yourself back when you feel that urge to do something different. Don’t be talked down. Follow your gut as you develop your process for living—or writing—or whatever. Training your mind and heart to grow wings isn’t just for authors. It’s a vital part of being alive.
And now I really am done babbling. Back to work.