During my first 10-day residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I kept hearing the word “routine.” I knew they were talking to me. I was disorganized, and I needed to create a routine around my writing. I needed to figure out where and when I produced my best work, and hopefully that would lead to some consistency.
I started with mornings. I told myself that I would write first thing each morning at the kitchen table.
Strike One. Life got in the way.
I then tried late-nights, reverting back to my old college ways.
Strike Two. I’m not really a night person.
Next up were early evenings; a nice block of time before my wife got off work.
Strike Three. I had too much energy. I couldn’t focus most days.
My quest for a routine ended in a strike-out.
But then I realized there are no strike-outs when it comes to writing. There are no right or wrong times and places to write. Coming to terms with this was the solution to the problem.
The routine I found is more of a mindset than a time and place. I’m never going to be someone who writes at 7 a.m. each morning in the breakfast nook, and that’s okay. I’ve gained consistency through the realization that as long as I’m writing each day, it doesn’t matter for me.
A minimum of 1,000 new words per day. That’s my routine. It doesn’t matter if it happens at dawn in my kitchen, or at midnight on the moon, as long as I get to that 1,000. The words can be for my WIP, school essays, random tangents and exercises, or a letter to my grandmother. It doesn’t matter.
Finding my routine was just about figuring out exactly how I work, and now that I have, here’s to the future…
Peter Patrick Langella, a former ice hockey player who happily traded body checks for spell-checks, is in his first semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts, working toward his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. For questions or comments about his post or the program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, you can reach Peter at email@example.com.