In the past, I never had a fixed writing schedule. I would write when I felt like it, if I felt like it. I could go months without typing a single word, and then, I would be absorbed by a story, swallowed up completely. When that frenzy came over me, I would lock myself up in my room and write for hours on end, and often well into the night. I am no stranger to those peculiar dark hours - when most people are in their second (or even third) sleep - silent ghostly hours, where shadows loom larger and each minute lasts longer. No. I would not be resting and dreaming. I would be up, writing, would go to bed exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later to get breakfast ready. 

I never questioned this way of working. It was what I did. I embraced it and, in fact, for many years, thought it was the only way I could work. I didn't allow for growing older, changing my mind or, possibly, maturing a little, too.

But, I was wrong. There is another way.

Before I found it, I would feel envious of people disciplined enough to sit down at their laptop every day, even for a short while, and write. To be honest, I never thought I had it in me. Yes, I can be disciplined, but, for some reason, didn't think this ability was available for writing. And I would have gone on thinking this were it not for life conveniently stepping in.

About eight months ago, we moved homes, and not only moved, but had to fix the house before moving in...or rather, simultaneously. This was the fourth move in ten years. And I felt miserable to be moving, as well as exhausted. Still, I had no choice. It was, simply, something we had to do.

At first, I fought this life change with all my might, I really did. It only brought on more frustration and unhappiness. So, I decided to let go and allow the change to happen, to try to accept it and flow with it.

This change within myself was the catalyst, I found out. By stepping out of my own way, I allowed a couple of things to happen:

a) Things flowed smoothly with the house, deadlines were (more-or-less) met, the final outcome was just as I'd expected if not better, things came together effortlessly and,

b) I discovered that the only way to keep my sanity throughout this period, was to write on a daily basis.

As you can imagine, this surprised me tremendously! I had not seen this coming!

I made sure that, every day - usually in the evening - I would go into my room and write. At times I felt pressured to do this, told myself that if I wanted to be called a serious writer, I would have to do this every day. My efforts were beginning to become unproductive. So, I created another rule for myself. Namely, I took guilt out of the equation. 'Have to' stopped existing.

And, one of my dearest and oldest friends, Sacha, sent me an article about how working for two consecutive hours is usually more productive than working for much longer stretches of time. So, I have added this to my set of rules, too.

So now, my new set of rules are:

1. I will try to write every day, even if I only write a couple of words,

however,

2. If, for whatever reason, I cannot write one day...that is perfectly fine. I spend the time I would have spent writing, thinking about my story, percolating ideas, thinking out areas of a novel that weren't quite clear,

and

3. I don't work more than two hours in a row.

A number of months down the line, this has brought about changes in both my peace of mind (which has increased), as well as my creativity (which, I find, has also increased), that I would never have imagined.

If I now go a day, or even a couple, without writing, I don't feel bad about it, don't tell myself off. On the contrary, I crave it! My absence from the keyboard only increases the fire I have within, makes my story more important and my characters more stubborn! As a result of this, I try not to go too many days without writing, not because I have to, but because I want to! And it feels wonderful because I feel like I am achieving something, completing it, creating even more!

Of course, there are times when I sit at my laptop and write and write, and that old hunger gets me like crazy - I cannot stop. That's fine, too.

I suppose, I've learnt to listen to my inner rhythms. They are sacred, right for me.

But, I do help them along...just a little...

How can I fall out of love, when I am faced with the object of my deepest affection every day?

So...welcome your Muse as she is, honour your rhythms. But also give them a chance to go from being something you enjoy doing, to something you can't do without! 

Until next time!

clouds.1 

 

 

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