The Narrow Line Between Routine and Rut
I remember being in high school and I would feel like I was in a rut with a morning routine and had to change it up. Nothing big. Usually something like washing my hair first in the shower to doing it last. For a while, I went from doing my makeup at home to dragging my giant Caboodle to school and doing my makeup in the girls' bathroom since my bus came early. Woohoo for extra sleep. And Caboodles are back, so there's that.
As an adult, my routine changes are more about creating good habits or improving efficiency than changing up a boring routine. Grownups don't have nearly as much "boredom time" as your average teen. That said, the thought of sticking to a plan all but gives me hives. Yet, we need a plan and much of my setbacks and failures in life can be attributed to not sticking to a plan, if I had one in the first place. Conversely, my greatest successes have been when I stuck to the plan.
A prime example is how I obtained my professional engineer's license. Taking the EIT (Engineer-in-Training exam, now called FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam) in college turned out to be one of the smartest things I've ever done. Never mind that I did it because of my boyfriend (now husband of 22 years). For the PE (Professional Engineer exam), I knew it would take time to study for it and not something I wanted to do while working full-time. I already planned to work part-time after I had kids, so when my son was about a year old, I started studying for the exam while he was in day care. The 8-hour exam was a breeze because I had a study plan and stuck to a schedule.
Doing the same with writing has been a bit more of a challenge. My writing started out in a fevered frenzy as my "latest thing". But that waned, especially as my first series was drafted, and I started a couple of new WIPs. I'm great at writing drafts as a pantser. The problem is my goal is traditional publishing and a polished manuscript is necessary. For years my writing plan has been some vague goal of "write every evening" which turned into a cycle of a "quick check of Facebook" (that goes down a rabbit hole) and ends with an episode or two of my latest binge or getting sucked into an app game. And no words on the page, 500 words that are glorified world building, or picking away at editing a scene for the tenth time.
Now the part I wrote in December as a progress report. I have tried some new approaches. One is paying for a writing course in November. Janeen Ippolito's 30-day writer's intensive course. I'm also listening to the Realm Maker's 2021 Crowdcast sessions before they're archived at the end of 2021.
How do you plan your work and follow through with your plans?