Schedules, Order, and The Zone

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With the coronavirus lockdown, it was challenging to keep up with my writing, especially my novel “A School Of Many Futures.” My life had been disrupted, my girlfriend’s life had been disrupted, my co-workers were dealing with changes, and there was the omnipresent specter of death. Not the best time to feel creative.

But I wanted to write, despite not having much of the right mood. There was something there that wanted to, writing is part of me, and I didn’t want to give up.

So here’s what I did – and something I found that surprised me.

What I started doing was scheduling writing time and/or goals. Each day more or less I tried to write, my Worldbook having a goal of writing 2 questions a day, and for my novel usually an hour on it (or an hour replotting). I admit for a stretch of weeks I was at best meeting 80% of my goals, but it was better than zero, and I was still writing.

It was a slog for awhile. You can kind of guess the reasons for it as you’re probably experiencing them or have experienced them. Still, work got done, and it was pretty good work.

Then I noticed something. I was getting more ideas, especially for my novel. I began noticing techniques that fired my imagination. I was getting inspired despite the slog, following the schedule . . .

. . . except I wasn’t. I was inspired because of the schedule.

I realized in time that because of the coronavirus crisis I’d lost touch with my inspirations. If I had just written because I was “in the mood” I’d never have written. But following a schedule meant I was always in touch with my writing even if I didn’t want to be or care.

And in time, that awareness led to inspiration and ideas and being viscerally aware of my work. Instead of writing when in the mood, the schedule kept me writing and let me more easily find the writing mood where inspiration flowed.

If you’re having trouble being creative in something, try this. Don’t wait for the mood, just make plans and do your best. Keep at it, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s not perfect. See what happens when you spend time on it.

It worked for me in time, but first you have to put in the work.

Steven Savage