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By Johannes Helmold

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Every process, occupation, phenomenon, and so on has a backside. This “dark side of the Moon” is rarely obvious to outsiders, and many people may have a somewhat perplexed vision of different professions. I believe it mostly refers to creative professions. For example, people may think that photographers just walk around glamorous events and push the buttons, musicians hang out with cute girl fans and rock out, and so on. Stereotypes can be weird.

break routine in writingIn this context, I enjoy the meme “What I really do.” It usually contains six pictures, each illustrating a single stereotype of the meme’s topic; the last picture titled “What I really do” usually contains a truthful and funny description of how things are in reality. This last picture describes the routine, which makes up about 80% of any occupation and profession. Photographers spend most of their time processing images in Photoshop, musicians rehearse in studios, and so on. As for writers, I would say a writer’s routine is to be in a constant search for ideas and ways of expressing them, combined with fairly stiff writing habits.

Habits are useful. However, in order to be able to generate ideas, produce content, and perform other creative functions properly, your brain needs stimuli. You may feel comfortable writing at the same time every day, or wearing your special t-shirt while writing, or listening to Native American chants, or doing whatever else helps you remain focused. But, this does not give you new impressions, does not give you fresh stimuli. Imagine your car (creativity) is all neat and tidy and shiny and ready to go after a car wash (your writing habits), and there’s even some gas (ideas) in it. But all of a sudden, you realize the key needed for starting your car (inspiration, willingness to write, enthusiasm, whatever) is lost in the bottomless bowels of your huge backpack you constantly carry with you (voila: routine!).

My suggestion here is not to quit all your writing habits. If you developed them, then you need them for successful work. It’s your way of keeping your car clean. My idea is that routine, which cannot be avoided under any circumstances (show me work that has no routine, and I’ll do to it immediately), must be diversified, because comprehensive routine leads to boredom, a lack of inspiration, and what is horrible for any writer, to writer’s block. So, if your writing process looks like monotonously typing words five hours a day, year by year, one day you may feel that it’s not as exciting as you would possibly like your profession to be.

In the next few posts I will share some of my methods of pulling oneself out of detrimental writing routines. I hope I’ve made it clear here why it’s important to diversify your routine, so stay updated!

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