Writing Again

I’m trying to write again. To get back into a habit. And what better way to do that than set a timer and free write. I have signed up for a writing accountability program for five weeks with Chloe Higgins. At the start of the year, I attended a free webinar run by Chloe and my one big takeaway was making time to write in the mornings before I went to the gym. Having listened to the podcast So you want to be a Writer for many years, I know enough to know not to wait for creativity to strike but instead, to just write. The problem for me with my day job as a psychologist has meant not knowing when that time is. I tried weekends, but I can be social then. I tried weeknights, but I’m too pooped mentally to focus and write. During Chloe’s webinar, she spoke about reflecting when we are most productive and using that time to create a routine. It hit me then – I am a morning person. Back in the day of regular commuting, I’d go to the gym at 6 a.m. which meant a wake up around 5:15 or so {I take that long to have my coffee, feed the cats, make sure I haven’t forgotten anything for work!} but since working from home, I was going to the gym at 7 and sleeping in an extra hour. What if I instead, used that time to write?

And so I set that little task for myself from early January. It worked well for a while. I wrote. And I wrote. I completed one short story and a couple of other half-baked ones. But the one I completed properly and submitted, ended up getting shortlisted for the Peter Carey Short Story Award. I didn’t need any significant creative inspirations. I didn’t have wonderful epiphanies. But showing up meant my brain switched itself to writing mode and I wrote. Some days I only got 250 words in 30 minutes. On other days, it was 700. But it was done. It goes to show how important a routine is.

Routine sounds boring. But I’ll admit I do like a certain amount of routine. I’m not rigid nor do I need a routine on a weekend but I do like my morning routines in general. And routines are beneficial for us in that, it takes away the mental load of planning and decision-making. It’s why when the lockdown first happened, most of us were thrown {including yours truly}. All of a sudden, our anchor points, our routines, were snatched away from us. With the mental load of trying to rework decisions in addition to our work or families and the added fear of this unknown virus, we were exhausted and tired. It’s why I grumbled and whinged about all the ‘lets-think-positive’ people who were rejoicing at all the time we were going to have. The reality is, at the start at least, it was going to take a while to adapt and adjust. We all needed to form new routines.

Once the routine was established, it got easier. It has helped that here in Sydney, we haven’t locked down completely like we did last year. Changes though, take time again.

When my writing routine was established for a few months, it was good. But then, work was very stressful in March with a number of emotional setbacks and changes. I still persisted but it took its toll on me and by April, I was struggling to wake up at my regular hour despite some early night. In April, I also struggled to read and focus in any way which goes to show just how drained I was leading up to my holiday. On holidays, once again, it meant different locations, to begin with, and during the staycation, sleep-ins till 7 and difficulty having a routine. Once I was back at work mid-May {from home four days, the office one}, it was hard to write again. The cold mornings were not helpful. Consequently, it made sense for me to sign up for Chloe’s course for some accountability. To re-establish my routine. I have a couple of projects in mind – a collection of short stories, a memoir/essay collection. I may only write 500 words in total during these five weeks. Or I may write 5000. Either way, they are more than zero words.

After all, you can’t edit a blank page.

Featured image by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

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  • Vanessa
    22 June 2021 at 9:48 am

    Any words are better than no words! I’ve done so little writing this year because I feel like work and health take up all my time and that is so boring… I’ve started keeping my writing app open more so that when I need a mental gap I can go in and add a few words.

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      23 June 2021 at 6:24 am

      I’ve always been impressed with how much you manage to write despite the ongoing health issues and work! But you’re right – it’s about snatching time when you can.

  • Gail M Baugniet
    22 June 2021 at 11:26 am

    Your final comment has been my mantra ever since I first participated in NaNoWriMo, around 2012. You cannot edit a blank page! I also wrote out my entire story before editing, whether short story, poem, or novel.
    Best of success with your writing accountability program.
    Gail M Baugniet recently posted…Book Review: Lights on the Sea by Miquel ReinaMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      23 June 2021 at 6:25 am

      Was it Jodi Picoult who said that? Or Hemingway? Either way, yep, it’s such good advice. I think NaNoWriMo is great for habits too – I did one in 2017 and it was very helpful! Happy writing to you as well!

  • Cate@Life Behind The Purple Door
    22 June 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I have always admired your ability to keep plugging away, where I have failed and failed. But I keep reminding myself that I am in a different season of life right now, it will come back around to time for me to write. Meanwhile, I’m cheering you from the sidelines!
    Cate@Life Behind The Purple Door recently posted…So Colourful – a bullet journal updateMy Profile

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      23 June 2021 at 6:39 am

      Different stages in life makes perfect sense. I sometimes feel like I have no excuse to NOT write given I don’t have family commitments. But then I have to remember my work can take up a lot of space. Writing though, keeps me sane through all of it! Thank you for cheering me on
      Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently posted…Writing AgainMy Profile

  • June 2021 reflections – Sanch Writes
    1 July 2021 at 8:36 am

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