If you missed my last post, for the past month, I’ve experimented with having a writing routine.
Results are in!
The first discovery I made is that I’m a terrible scientist. I went from my old ways to the new without first collecting data from the old. So how could I compare? Based off feelings? You bet. (Not very scientific, right?)
Here’s a recap of my experiment at the point where you saw it last:
Step one: Ask a question. Will sticking to a writing routine help me be a better writer or am I destined to live a wild existence of unpredictability for all of time?
Step two: Do background research. The old saying is that is takes 21 days to create a habit. But actually it takes 18-200-and-something days with an average of 66 days being the golden number. Basically, I could fall anywhere on this spectrum. We’ll see if 30 days is enough for me.
Step three: Construct a hypothesis. By the end of these 30 days, the trial will either prove routine works for even the likes of me or that I’m a wild jungle babe of writing.
Step four: Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment. For the next 30 days, I will write in my
glorified closetoffice–and only in that room. (I thought about doing it at a certain time, but then I started twitching and dry heaving and breaking out in hives, so I decided against that.)
And now, onto the rest of the scientific method...
Step five: Analyze your data and draw a conclusion. Blarg! What good is new data without old data? This is why I’m a writer and not a scientist. But I did make observations (based on feelings), at least. A few of those are:
Me: I’m going to write now.
Me: Better do that writing in your office.
Me: No, I’m sick. I’ll write cuddled on the couch.
Me: You can’t slack on day one of your experiment.
Me: Yes, I can. Because of the pressure in my head.
Me: Fine, but I’m hugging Oskimo (my stuffed bear) while I write in there.
Hey, this aint even half bad. As long as I bring food.
Once again, I wanted to edit not in my office, but here I am. Coming in here does feel like a step toward productivity now.
After the first week, writing in my office felt natural. Week two went amazingly well.
And then somewhere in the middle of week three, I ended up writing in my living room because that’s where the window is and it was sunny. IT WAS SUNNY, OKAY? And then I always wrote by the window or out on the balcony. So...there was habit, just not the habit I set out to keep.
Step six: Communicate your results. I didn’t notice a difference in productivity in my office or in the sunshine. I got a ton done in both places. I went over my manuscript to apply final edits, handed it off to my critique partner, got notes for final final edits, and now I’m almost done with those. The only noticeable difference was that I was happier writing in the sun, and happiness is hella important.
Like Veronica Roth said, “Sometimes you do have to force yourself to do something, but it doesn't have to be in the same way as other people force themselves to do something.”
Moral of the story: Experiment and go with what feels right to you. As long as your writing is getting done and you’re moving forward, do what you do.