One of the main reasons I started this ten minute blog was to establish a certain amount of routine in my day. I knew that whatever else happened that day I would have at least gotten this done by 8 or 10 o’clock each morning. The idea was that this would kickstart me into working and make me a better and more productive person.
Instead, it has occasionally seemed like the same kind of routine activity as going to the dentist every six months to have my teeth cleaned. Good for me in a way but hardly pleasant and not clearly leading to a better life. At least, so far, it hasn’t been as painful as pulling teeth.
And it has done me some good in surprising ways. I’ve used this forum to explore some of the issues created by my first hand brush with murder last October and as a vent for some of my frustrations with the political and economic system I live in. I suspect it is better to yell into my computer keyboard than at random people on the street. And I’m getting about as much attention without the unpleasantness of being institutionalized.
Routine is, they say, important for many people. Children, for example, seem to thrive better with predictability. Routine is not the only way to achieve this but for many harried parents it is the easiest. But routine can also be soul destroying and limiting when take to extremes.
It all depends on context. For example, I don’t mind having basically the same breakfast every day. The reason is simple. It takes me a long time to become fully conscious (it occurs — usually — just before I write this blog) so what I eat in the morning is fairly irrelevant. It’s just stuff I can manage (almost always) to move from my plate to my mouth. Non-routine breakfasts would be wasted on me.
But eating the same thing every day for supper or lunch — horrors (and having the same meal each day of the week — Sunday is lasagna — is possibly a symptom of OCD)!
And don’t even get me started on leftovers.
A lot of people who write find routine as the most effective way to be productive. One writer — Timothy Findlay, if memory serves — always went to his desk for the same time every day. He didn’t always write but he had to do writing related things — like marketing or correspondence with his agent or editor. No shifting from the office until his time was up. Michael Crichton took it even further. When he was ready to write he went to his daughter’s house and locked himself in a room for seven weeks. He would wear the same clothes everyday (he left them outside the room for his daughter to wash each night) and ate the same meals which his daughter left on a tray outside the door. He saw no one and spoke to no one but seven weeks later had a novel.
That seems a little excessive to me. But still, I do try to write regularly — but not routinely.
And that’s ten minutes.