The Routine

I’m really trying to find my rhythm.  Between writing, editing comics, editing for CBR and any consulting that comes in, I’m all over the map at any given times.  My schedule, if you can call it that, is in shambles.  I have no sense of routine or consistency, which definitely affects my work.  Right now there are no fewer than 10 actionable items on my To-Do list.

My routine currently goes as follows:

  • Wake up as early as possible
  • Worry about what’s on the To-Do list, money, what needs to be written
  • Try to write
  • Put out fires (AKA answering email and doing anything that results in American cash money dollars)
  • Try to write
  • Look for work
  • Try to write
  • Think about blogging, remember it doesn’t pay
  • Try to write
  • Waste time
  • Try to write
  • Dodgeball/gym/life
  • Try to write
  • Go to sleep as late as possible

Of course, I’d be lying if I said every “Try to write” involved more than me musing, “I should try to write” before inserting a giant “BUT…” and finding something seemingly more productive.  I’m getting more writing done the last couple months than usual, and just turned in a first draft of a creator-owned book to my artist and co-creator, but I still don’t feel anywhere near productive.  And I’m still not any closer to knocking out a screenplay, though after a talk with Hill I’m pretty sure this current idea, once broken, will find its way to finished.

My biggest hurdle is the whole “Creative On Demand” struggle.  My focus is never in one place, and all I have to blame is life and needing to do 12 different things at any given time.  It’s not facebook or twitter or video games, though none help.  It’s the fact that I don’t have any regularity (fiber helps) and can’t seem to find a way to cheat a normal routine into my hectic schedule.

Hell, I was supposed to go to sleep between 9:30 and 10pm tonight and I’m typing this at a quarter to midnight after spending two hours on the phone doing tech support type stuff on two different SlingBoxes.  Unexpected, nonessential, but it’s tough to say no to family.  And I think I had been delaying that phone call for the better part of three months.

Creative people, how do/did you set your routines?  How do you stick by them?

The Best Laid Plans…

I watched “The Dialogue: Sheldon Turner” and, like most of these inspirational (or soul-crushingly depressing) how-tos on writing, I took it with several grains of salt.  Writing, like most creative endeavors, is not simply a matter of hearing how (and often not why) someone does something in a certain way of copying them.  While that might work, it’s not guaranteed.  You have to figure out what works for you – your style, your habits, your life.

Turner mentioned that he gets up at 4am every day (or more accurately 3:57) and writes for about an hour.  He then works out, gets his day going and goes back to writing.  I’m going to keep working out at night (for now) because I have a sexy training partner – no, it’s not me in the mirror – and I have these animals who get up when I do and need care and maintenance, but I liked the idea of starting my writing day before the rest of the world is even awake. Maybe this is the answer to boost my writing metabolism.

Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that even when I sit down early and try to focus on just writing, things crop up or I’m just not on.  It may take me anywhere from two to ten hours to really get the juices flowing and get into a rhythm where I can write more than fifteen words without declaring them complete and utter shit.  How do I make more consistent progress?  Maybe Turner had the answers.  He mentioned that he rarely sleeps more than 4-5 hours a night or he’s off, and I average about 4.5-5.5 hours a night on weekdays.

Last night I set two alarms.  One for 6am and a backup for 6:37.  I wasn’t ready to dive right into the 4am wake-up call, and it was just after 1am when I hit the sack.  My early alarm went off.  I hit snooze.  Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum. My backup never went off.

I woke up this morning just north of 8:30am…

Not saying I can’t train myself to make it work, but it’s looking like I’m just a better afternoon-evening-night productivity person.  My next step (MWF when I have “writing” days) is a full electronic pinch.  I will turn off all Internet and other communications during the standard 9-5 workday, leave my phone on silent – not vibrate – and not turn on the TV for any reason.  My only allowed distraction will be music.  The Black Box work environment.  As much as we blame email, twitter and facebook for being the biggest distractions, when writing I will often get hung up on research, particularly for visual reference, when I should just plow through and fill in later.

I’ll continue to try to do the early riser deal, and if the distraction-free thing doesn’t work, I can resort to the Creativity Elixir. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you have any particular hints or hacks to get up and get going earlier, or how to turn on the creative juices, please leave a comment.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I’ve started reading Tim Ferriss‘ book again.  I have the audio, and I got about halfway through last time before it threatened to destroy my life.  It pointed out all the inefficiencies and time wasters of my world.  It made me want to be a more productive individual.  Work smarter, not harder.  That sort of thing.
Anyhow, I’ve started at the beginning and I’m going to finish it this time.  I’m going to become a life hacker.  I’ve added Tim’s blog to the list at right, and you can find more about him and the book HERE.
Also, if anyone knows where I can watch the pilot of Tim’s show, Trial by Fire, please let me know.