I wrote a poem the other day as I was on my way out the door that included this stanza:
It’s important to go out at odd times sometimes
To break from your routine
Remind yourself you’re not locked in
That there’s a whole big world just waiting
Writers and other creative types often talk about the importance of establishing a routine. While I agree that routines are undoubtedly helpful and even necessary, I think it’s just as essential to break from them on occasion. I’m a creature of habit and an introvert. It can be easy for me to unintentionally structure my life so that every day looks the same. When I do this, the tea I drink every morning begins to taste bland. I wake up with a tired to-do list already formed in my head. I start to feel restless and crave adventure, desiring whatever will take me away from my computer.
I need routine and structure to function. I’ve tried living without it, and I don’t do so well with that either, but I think having an overly rigid routine can also be an issue.
On my days off, I write, edit, and do my other creative work in the mornings. On my days at my paid job, I may do creative work in the evenings if I have the energy, but most of it gets done on my days off. I tend to be protective of this time. I try to schedule social events and other engagements in the late afternoons or evenings so I can hold this time aside for my art. However, I occasionally make exceptions when opportunities for fun activities or adventures come up.
Missing one or two writing days used to stress me out. I’d feel guilty and like I was falling behind, even though I don’t adhere to specific deadlines. I’d worry that if I missed too many days in a row, I’d lose the creative practice I’ve painstakingly developed. I’d think I wasn’t a “real” or “good” writer if I didn’t follow my routine to a T.
I can still feel bummed out when life takes me away from writing, but I’ve learned that can sometimes be a good thing. Breaking from routine and going on an adventure can be inspiring. It can add that extra splash of flavour to my life I need to create and keep things from tasting bland. It can allow me to feel liberated creatively and get unstuck mentally. And often, after some time away from my work, I’m eager to dive back in, equipped with new ideas.
Having a routine is necessary. I’d never get my work done if I didn’t. I need to consistently set aside time, but occasionally, I should let life take me away from this structure as well. I need to let the waves lapping at my feet carry me out to sea because that’s where the inspiration is. That’s where the life is! And life is where art comes from. I don’t want to become so fixated on making art that I forget to live my life. There’s a balance to this. Have a routine and stick with it as much as possible but don’t close yourself off to new opportunities, experiences, and adventures. Adventures are where the art is.
If you find yourself stuck and in need of inspiration, try letting go of your routine for a day or two. Walk into the ocean, find the waves, and see what happens.