This week I’ve been thinking about routines and making changes to my daily life. As it’s the first week of Lent, several people posted on Facebook that they were giving it up (Facebook, that is) for 40 days. I was tempted to do this myself as, of all places online, it’s Facebook that seems to suck my time and leave me with that unsatisfied feeling of “where did that hour/morning/afternoon/evening go? However, I do find interesting articles and news via Facebook and I really like being in touch with friends and family I don’t see that often, plus Facebook is a good way of bringing readers to my two blogs, so I’ve decided to try to limit my time there but not give it up altogether.
The other thing that got me thinking about routines were two excellent blogposts – one by Helen Mackinven (in which the title says it all) “Writing + Day Job = Frustration” and another by Emma Lee, “Get in the Habit of Writing.” I’ve mentioned before that I’m struggling to get into my writing stride this year as I learn to juggle my part-time job with The Reader Organisation alongside the demands of family, writing and blogging, so there was plenty I could relate to in Helen’s blogpost. But while it seems important to me to re-establish a writing routine, it’s also important, as Emma’s post reminded me, to understand that everything feeds into writing so time alone, exercising, reading, walking, thinking and daydreaming are just as important as sitting at the writing desk. And doing work other than writing, paid or otherwise, is also valuable if we keep our writers’ eyes and ears about us (and a notebook handy, about which, more later). I’m trying to think of non-writing time as research or ‘feeding’ time and to not get hung-up on the fact that I’m not writing.
Breaking out of a routine, doing different stuff, is also good for us. I was struck by an article I read recently about our perceptions of time passing: remember how never-ending the school summer holidays seemed to be? That’s because all the experiences we come up against as children are new to us, not mundane, so life feels full and exciting. If we establish a routine and tend to do the same activities, wear the same clothes, meet the same people, eat the same food, go to the same places for long periods of time, days, months and years will disappear in a flash of colourlessness. (bit grim, eh?)
With this in mind, I’ve tried to ring the changes for me and my family. We’ve had a few country walks this weekend, a family meal at a pub we’ve never visited before and a visit to a The Athanaeum Theatre in Warminster to see a very good, amateur (in collaboration with the RSC’s Open Stages programme) production of Macbeth (which my daughter is studying for her English Literature GCSE). The play was slightly marred in its closing moments by Macduff carrying in what looked like the chopped off head of a shop window dummy (albeit one which had been doused in blood-red paint). Still, the man who played Macbeth was also bald so we in the audience couldn’t complain about being confused. And the shop dummy was something new, the production different to any I’ve seen before, so time didn’t pass quickly and the evening seemed colourful! Result!
I mentioned notebooks earlier. Two wonderful posts about stationery by Anthony Wilson this week, here and here. Whatever you’re up to, it pays dividends to carry notebooks around with you and to feed inspiration into them as it strikes, especially if life is busy and writing has to be squeezed into spare moments that crop up at odd times through the day (or night).
Talking of inspiration and thinking again of Lent, this mindful list has been on my fridge door since last Lent when my daughter brought it home from school. Never mind about giving up cake, I’m inspired to try to give up some of the things on this list instead.
Until my next post, I wish you colour, time, inspiration, notebooks and cake.