When Routine Becomes Rut

I made the decision nearly a year ago to treat my fiction like a business: to dedicate a chunk of my routine to it instead of waiting for inspiration to strike.

There have been adjustments; I at first adhered to the common wisdom of “write every day” but fell into the common trap of guilt spirals as days got missed due to chronic illnesses. What I found worked better was a M-F approach with weekends to recharge and mull over future plot points. And just like my design gigs, I gave myself timelines with flexible schedules.

But exactly like with an office job, sometimes you put your butt into the chair and you. just. don’t. want. to be. there.

Working from home takes those days and makes them 1000% worse. Because no one is forcing you to be there.

And currently I don’t even have a client/publisher dangling a carrot or waving a stick.

The past two weeks have been a bit… explodey, emotion-wise, and that’s bled over from “home life” into “work life” just as it would if I was in a joe-job. My productivity plummeted, my guilt bloomed like spring algae, and frustrations continue to build up.

I thought if I gave myself permission to take a break for a couple of days, it would get better, but of course it hasn’t; I need get working again, that much I know, but editing is beyond frustrating (and my writing self-esteem is rock bottom at the moment). What to do?

The solution was staring me in the face: treat it like work. At least in the design world, it’s understood that sometimes you gotta walk away and clear your head. There’s always something else to do instead. Use a different part of your brain, then come back fresh. So I grabbed supplies and headed to Starbucks, and spent some time with a sketchbook and some markers, brainstorming branding solutions for this here site. I’m still sticking to my plan of building up an archive before I “launch” but it’s been a long time since I’ve done design work, and it’s got me fired up in a way that I need right now.

Sometimes I regret having focused on my design career instead of on my writing for my 20s. But other times, like today, I appreciate all the tools that its given me, like the discipline to work from home, the objectivity to separate myself from my creations, and the experience to approach problems from different angles until I find the one that’s best for me.

I hope to start editing again on Monday. Wish me luck!

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