Dear Faithful Reader,
Serving as caregiver to a family member who had surgery along with complication after complication, I’ve been away from my computer for nearly two months now. It’s not over, but I’m now able to maintain focus in more than one direction. Which reminds me, once again, how much routine means to my everyday functioning. My familiar routine has been temporarily interrupted. Oh yes, I like changes and challenges and spontaneity, but my need for routine lives right beside my want for mini-chaoses.
Routine for me is something as ordinary as stepping into pants/trousers the same way every day. Left leg first, or right leg first. Switching sides often means a tumble to the floor. Or brushing my teeth. Left side first or right side first. I haven’t counted, but I bet I brush the same number of strokes on each side every day, too. Funny that I’ve become more aware of the necessity for routine now that it’s interrupted. Without the predictability of chores plus the addition of new ones, I lost my rhythm, and this blog suffered. Sorry. When I stay on task, even when I’d rather not, I know what is next, next, and next.
Come to think of it, I’m methodical almost no matter the issue. For instance, I’m working on an article about an army base close to my home that existed for a couple of years during World War II (Camp Phillips, topic of an earlier blog). The base was huge, forced more than 300 farmers and land owners to sell and abandon their land, and devastated a couple of small towns’ infrastructures. Information about Camp Phillips is endless, so I want to establish a method to address this assignment that works for my need for order and natural consequences.
First, I did some general research about the base. Then I asked for a specific focus to bolster the theme from the editor and arranged interviews with local people who lived through the situation. Next will be an outline to help determine directions of the writing itself. Without this informal path, I spend time thinking in circles, staring at a computer screen in disarray, wondering what to do next.
I may change my mind someday, but right now, the more I put everyday activities into their own routines/methods, the more mental space I seem to have for creative endeavors. This idea of routinizing helps me set priorities, release unhelpful energy, and live more in the moment.
You're thinking this too shall pass, (and I’m sure you’re right), but in the meantime, I’m ready to create a detailed Excel spreadsheet spelling out current writing projects, projected completion dates, and list of potential publishers to query. I may be going a little overboard here, but what’s most important is that I get going, period.