“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly
making exciting discoveries.”
For the past two months or so, I’ve put myself on a pretty strict schedule. I’ve pulled together a full draft of my YA novel and now I’m spending three hours a day five days a week working through it from back to front, rewriting and editing. I’ve been very focused about sticking to this daily timetable, though when I put in my three hours can vary from day to day. Sometimes it’s in the morning, sometimes the afternoon, and on some days, I even break it up and work for two hours, take a break, then wrap up with my last hour later in the evening. My overall goal is to be consistent and stay committed to my daily hours of work, but not slavishly so.
I find that if I build a bit of flexibility into my basic routine, I’m more likely to stick with it. This gives me permission to goof off once in a while, which can be very freeing and energizing. Take a recent Thursday. It was an absolutely gorgeous, balmy fall day in the seventies. After my walk with Ryder and breakfast, I should have launched right in to the next phase of my editing.
But it was so mellow outside that I decided to play a bit. I made a cool drink, settled Ryder on the porch with me, and parked myself on my comfy chaise lounge. Then I pulled out a magazine and read about how the actress Dana Delaney handles her stress, checked out a few tasty recipes, took in a few sleep tips, and fantasized about getting more exercise. Then, full disclosure: I pulled out yet another magazine — the latest copy of People (hey, it had a cover story on Taylor Swift and I’m putting together a post about her, so it was research!). Once I got my celebrity fix, I printed out a bunch of my novel pages and edited them outside in the sunshine instead of at my desk. And you know what? I came up with a great idea and dashed off a few new paragraphs, easy as pie. Must have been those stress-busting tips!