I’m a creature of habit. I suppose most people are in varying degrees, but I believe most people allow more randomness or spontaneity in their actions than I allow in mine. I have learned that my habits control my behavior almost every minute of the day. I have a routine even if I don’t think about what it is. But I need to think about my routine, to review it, and to ask: Does this routine help or hinder me?
Self-awareness is good even if it tells us something bad about ourselves. Once I start something, my self-awareness tells me, I continue to do it until I’m done. To be more specific: If I start to waste my time, I’m going to continue to waste it until I reach the end of whatever time-wasting activity I’m engage in. If I start watching a television show on Netflix, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’m going to binge watch the show, until I see all episodes in its seven-season run. Since I can’t achieve that in one day, or even one week, this time waster can interfere with me for weeks.
I call such activities detractors because they divert my attention and my time away from more productive and important activities, like writing and reading. Though I know I have several detractors, I have identify my top three detractors as: binge watching television series, playing computer games, and browsing the internet. Unfortunately, these detractors have rob most of 2014. I’ve spent too much time watching Netflix televisions shows, playing Civilization, and watching mindless YouTube videos. I would not argue that there’s no place for these activities in my life, but it is important to control how much time I allow them. They’ll take over my life if I let them, distracting me from my writing and my reading, and preventing me from achieving my goals.
Since when I start an activity, I continue to do it until I’m done, it is important that I start the right activities. My goal is to be a novelist. As such, writing and reading are the two most important activities I need to do. I call these core activities. To succeed, I need to do both everyday. For that reason, I have adopted the following routine.
I have a daily fiction-writing session of ninety minutes. This is the first activity of the day. Over the years, I have learned that ninety minutes is how long it takes me to write the next passage in my novel or short story. It is an average of how long it takes me to come to a good stopping place. That good stopping place is when I’m “done” writing for the day. Sometimes I reach in in sixty or seventy-five minutes, and other times it takes me two full hours to reach it. It depends on the passage.
When I finish writing fiction, I take a break to eat. After eating, I write again. This time I write in my journal or I write a blog post. On my schedule, this is a thirty-minute writing session, but as with my fiction writing, how long it lasts depends on what I need to write.
Reading comes next. It is my goal to read at least one-hour a day. When I’m focused on my core activities, when I limit my detractors, I tend to read more than one-hour a day. My main reading session is after my journal-writing and before I need to dress for work.
When I allow detractors to draw me away from this routine, I grow stale. But when I follow this routine, I know I’m working towards my ultimate success.