When and Why to Break Your Routine

Trip to Siesta Key, Florida 2014
Trip to Siesta Key, Florida 2014

Routine is important. All the great writers say so. “Write every day” is perhaps the most common piece of writing advice given by writers to other writers, and I trust this advice. As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird,

You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. … But you cannot will this to h

appen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started (6-7).

The simple truth is, writing is hard, but making it a part of your everyday routine makes it easier. Sort of.

So why would you ever break from this routine?

For some people, maybe you never should. I, on the other hand, have always been a proponent of the old adage, “everything in moderation.” Even in my writing life, and even with the things I’m passionate about. Why? Let me share with you my biggest secret: I’m not someone who enjoys being busy.

I heard you gasp. But busy-ness is the cornerstone of our society! I feel slothful just mentioning my aversion to being busy. So imagine my relief when I read Tim Kreider’s piece on “The ‘Busy’ Trap.” As he says,

The space and idleness that quietness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration–it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

Maybe this is all just my big excuse for not blogging while on vacation in Florida last week. But you know what? I’m gonna go with it. My week on the beach gave me the space I needed to breathe in life, to read some good books, and to get my mind back in a place where I can do good work.

On the beach last week
On the beach last week