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  • Writer's pictureJeannie Moon

Confessions of a Coffee-Fueled Scribbler

I couldn’t resist that title. It sounds fun, right? Maybe even a little out there. I wish it was fun, but the truth of it is since I’ve retired, I’ve been wasting a lot of my newly found freedom. 


I’m not alone. Writers who don’t have jobs outside the home are often champion procrastinators. Now, I don’t know if I’ve been procrastinating in the truest sense, but the result is the same. I’ve been away from the day job for six months, and I don’t have a lot of words to show for it. 


I’ve made many excuses for my lack of production. My husband was dealing with a health issue. (Non-life threatening, but it needed attention.) My daughter was married. I had a reader event. I hosted Thanksgiving. We took a trip to Europe. We arrived home with colds, and Christmas prep kicked in. My husband’s treatments began. It was a lot.


But I still had way more time than before I left teaching, and I had nothing to show for it. Not even clean closets.  


Then last week, while lamenting my lack of progress in a coaching session with some other writers, the host said something I hadn’t considered. “You need structure,” he said. “One of your high strengths is Discipline. Lean into it. You’re used to having a schedule, so make one. Create a routine.”


I think my head might have exploded.


When I was a young mother with three children under the age of five, a full-time job as an English teacher, a husband who almost always worked six-day weeks, a house, a dog, and graduate school classes…I started to crack under the pressure. My life was controlled chaos. Then one day, while sitting in a doctor’s office, I read an article in Parent’s magazine about creating routines to simplify a busy life. It was an epiphany, and it probably saved my sanity.


I had structure at work, what I needed was structure at home. So, I made a list of everything that had to be done each day, including weekends. Even simple tasks like showering were on the list. After the list was complete, I got myself a big piece of paper, a ruler, and some colored pens and created my family’s schedule.


Chicken night was Tuesday. The laundry was done on Saturday afternoon. Cleaning the house took place on Sunday, but my husband and I got in the habit of doing a quick clean-up before bed. Grocery shopping was slotted in on Friday night. 


During the week, after I picked the kidlets up from the sitter, they had their own mini-routines. It took a month, but once everyone settled in, we were all less stressed. I was happier, my children were happier…it was a win all around. As the kids got older we adjusted for soccer practice or dance classes, but the routine lived on for years. 

My grown children still talk about Thursday afternoon baking. 


Yes. I scheduled that in, too. 


Recently, however, it was the lack of busyness that was throwing me off. So after Christmas, I did a thorough purge of my office, cleaned my desk, broke out my planner and colored pens, and made a list of what I wanted to accomplish. 

Writing is scheduled in every morning.  


It’s going to take me a while to get used to the routine, but I already feel better. As I slotted in my daily exercise, client work, time with my grandchildren, and dinner prep, a calm settled around me. It was familiar and comforting.

 

The point here is not that you have to schedule every minute of every day, but if something matters to you, find the time for it. Make it a regular thing, and in a month or two, it will just be—well—routine. If you’re working a day job, think about getting up early to write. I completed four books writing from 4:30-5:30 in the morning. 


If you’re not working full-time, schedule your writing time so your day doesn’t get away from you. That’s what I’m doing, and it’s a game changer. Words are happening.


Finally. 


This post was written during the first day of my morning writing time. I have coffee, one of the dogs asleep in the office bed, and my new manuscript waiting for me. This afternoon, I’ll have time to bake.

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