Oops! It broke! Well, it was supposed to break. There were fissures running along its spine for a while now―my daily writing routine, that is―only I was ignoring them out of some imbricated stubbornness, you know, like a hideous serpent so used to its covert cemented ways, it refuses change like a plague. Yes, that was me. And guess who was suffering for it? Me.
What exactly am I talking about? And why did I break this thing I'm talking about?
Well, let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time I was doing social media for clients. I also, once upon a time, was climbing out of depression and reaching out to people on social media as my new family. So, a habit was born, primarily on Twitter, but also on all other social media sites. And not only that. Things I had to do every morning, like checking emails and making phone calls and warding off annoying solicitors with a debunking smile (they usually try to sell me dried mastodons or fractious children that end up raiding my fridge). I would wake up, and get my coffee, and then...anxiety would set in. That anxiety included wild conjectures and self-deprecating thoughts like:
OMG, OMG, OMG, my brain is empty. I feel dumb. What am I going to tweet? Okay, let me come up with something. OMG, OMG, OMG, now that I tweeted it, it does look dumb! OMG, I should delete it. OMG, if I delete it, I will admit to thinking that it was dumb and then people will really find me out. OMG, this other writer just tweeted something so smart, I'll never tweet anything this smart. OMG, OMG, OMG...
And so it would keep growing.
I would fuss over what to post on Facebook, force myself to come up with something, and the same on Google+ and Ello and the rest of the incorporeal stretches of doddering shimmering internets. Or whatever. Then I would glance at the news and freak out, then I would try to answer a gazillion emails, then, as I would be doing these things, more things would drop in my lap. Phone calls. Texts. Private messages. Demands. Requests. And all this time I would be watching the clock.
8 a.m. would be gone. Then 9 a.m. Then 10 a.m.
According to my schedule, I am supposed to do 2 hours of this platitudinous gabbing and start writing at 10 a.m. Yeah, right. Guess what happened. 10 a.m. would stretch into 11 a.m. Slowly, it would creep to 12 p.m., and one day I have started writing as late as 4 p.m., after getting sidetracked into some conversation with some recalcitrant ogre who set my blood boiling. I can't even remember what it was, I only remember that it took me a while to calm down.
Guess what usually happened next.
My best energy would be gone.
I would start writing, but after about an hour I would start yawning―nap time―and sometimes even coffee wouldn't help. Worse. My mind would start to drift. Because I would expend my best morning thinking on insignificant trivialities and then battle anxiety to get myself into writing mood, by the time I would be actually writing, I'd be already exhausted. Mentally.
But I would battle it.
I WOULD FUCKING POWER THROUGH IT.
Next, I would brag about it. Oh, look at me. The powerhouse. Bla-bla-bla. This was heroics blown out of proportion and smelling fishy. What I was really doing was letting other people and my insecurities drain my creative umphf. And I suffered for it. Until today.
Today was bliss.
Yesterday I read an interview with Salman Rushdie, a rather long piece, and it struck me that he works in the morning, before he does anything else. It struck me because Hugh Howey does the same, and a slew of other writers I know. And then I realized, with a flash in my upper extremities, that my current routine is trammeling me, trumping me, holding me back. My routine is my shackles. I need to break it. Because here is what happens every day.
Every day I wake up with my book in my head. I read it aloud to my boyfriend right before sleep the previous day―I mean, I read to him what I wrote that day―and while I sleep it's cooking in my head. When I wake up, I'm ready to pick up from where I left and continue. Only instead of doing it, I would open up an exorbitant number of browser windows and start my morning social media dance. By the time I would get to writing, that first virgin thought I had upon waking would be lost. And I would painfully dig in my skull for it, trying to extract whatever was left.
A miracle happened today, however.
Number one, nobody died of boredom on Twitter while I was gone.
Number two, I wrote two chapters instead of one and HAD ZERO ANXIETY. I have effectively shaved off about 2-3 hours from my daily routine, and now I can use them to write more, or read more. Why didn't I do this before?
It's that damned fear of somehow not pleasing people enough. I feel like I have to entertain everyone at all times, and I run myself thin in the process. This was an important learning experience, and a big step to something new and big and glorious. I can sense it. It felt amazing. I was more sure of myself than I have ever been before. And I didn't yawn while writing once, I didn't hesitate, it just happened. It felt fantastic.
Why am I telling you this? Because. If you know there is something interfering with your writing, get rid of it, if you can. It's your life. Other people will run it, if you let them. Or your fears will, your insecurities, your doubts. Your writing is the most important thing to you, as a writer. Focus on it. Give it your best shot, every day. The rest can go to hell.
There. I feel so good now. Looking forward to more writing tomorrow right after I wake up. Oh, one more thing I forgot to say. I made another change in my routine recently. I have stopped taking breaks and started writing through the weekends. And that helped me get rid of anxiety and being blocked. Okay, now I'm done.