The latte is brewed. I’m sat in my regular writing spot and I’m ready to go. Words pour off my fingers effortlessly and the usual distractions of Twitter or Facebook totally lose their pull. The sun is shining so I have the windows open and the smell of outdoors is gorgeous.
“So what? What’s that got to do with me?!?”
I knew you’d be thinking that. “Sure, great El, you have a bit of a writing routine going on. Lovely for you but why are you wasting my time telling me about it??”
The thing is, it actually has a lot to do with you. Because I had a bit of a moment in the shower this morning (no, not that kind of a moment, naughty, an ‘aha!’ moment) and it has everything to do with you.
The idea of routine isn’t new. Even the most free-spirited of us actually need some stability.
(Think I’m wrong? Think that you hate routine and can’t get a thing done unless you’re allowed to totally go with the flow? I’ll bet you go to sleep every night for roughly the same number of hours. And you eat, off and on mostly, throughout the day? Imagine for a moment if every single day were literally completely devoid of routine. If you didn’t know when or where your next meal was coming from or what you would do during the day. It would be horrible!)
I love flexibility (not the ‘tuck your legs behind your ears kind’ – stop sniggering!) and that I can pretty much do what I want, when I want, on most days of the week. Today for example, I stayed in my PJs until a little after 11am. (And no, I’m not lazy. I’d been up working since ten past six, I just got busy and didn’t get round to it until a little later.)
But honestly? I much prefer being up, showered and dressed by 7am. On a work day at least. It feels right and proper and without it, my whole day can quickly fall apart and I get nothing done.
And it was while I was in the shower that I remembered something I’d read about writing routines and I got to thinking about how that might work toward you being youier. But first I had to test the theory, hence the coffee and the writing spot and the open windows.
Because today was one of those days that, on paper at least, should have gone totally to pot. None of my usual routines happened. I wasn’t up and dressed by 7am. I didn’t take the kids to school (they didn’t take themselves I might add. Just in case you had visions of three under 10s walking the streets alone!) and I didn’t write 1000 words before 11am.
A perfect day then, to test the ‘click whirr’ idea.
Because click whirr (in terms of writing routines at least) says that if you have set patterns of behaviour in place in the lead up to writing, it helps your brain to know what comes next and ‘click whirr’, you write and it feels easy. (And yes, I’m totally paraphrasing but that’s basically the idea.)
Since reading that post from James I’ve been giving my writing ‘click whirrs’ a little bit of consideration and the only routine I really have is the coffee and writing seat combo. Yes, if the sun is shining then the windows need to be open but it’s hardly a routine made of stone.
But maybe your click whirr doesn’t need to be iron clad? Maybe it’s enough just to have some basic preparations in place?
(Because spoiler alert, but I’m pretty sure that ‘click whirr’ can be applied to more of life than just writing!)
So I put the coffee pot on. Warmed and frothed my milk. Bunged some plates in the dishwasher while I waited (because part of my usual 9am routine is putting the breakfast stuff away while the coffee does its thing and I wanted to stay as true to the routine, regardless of how daft it seemed) and then armed with coffee, I took myself and my mac to my writing sofa.
And you know what? It worked! Click whirr did it’s thing and it’s like it’s 9am again (except that my tummy just started grumbling because it can not be fooled and know that it’s really lunch time!)
And here’s where it gets really interesting …
Because what if that same click whirr idea could be applied to other stuff? (Because I really think it can you know.) Think about you at your most vibrant. What do you look like and act like when you feel most alive? Who are you with? What are you thinking? Feeling? Doing?
What happens in the lead up to that moment?
Just like how a home made latte and a certain seat act as the prequel to undistracted writing for me, there will be things that lead up to you being youier. Some of those things might not be so helpful (I mean, if what it really takes for you to be youier right now is seventeen glasses of wine, that’s not exactly convenient is it?) but if you give yourself time and keep your eyes open, you will start to see patterns.
Want to hear some even better news?
Even if I’m wrong and you don’t have any click whirr patterns that lead you to be youier just yet, you can create some. And you get to choose what they are too (which is rather cool because imagine if the click whirr had to involve eating peas … bleugh!)
All it takes is for you set predictable patterns of behaviour, one after the other, the same every time, with those ending with you being youier. And before you know it, your clever brain will kick in and help you out, without you even needing to give it a second thought.
All that assumes that you know what a youier you looks like of course. And if you don’t yet, fear not. I have your back. I’m about one quarter of a way through writing The Youier Manifesto. Want a little preview? Click here to visit the secret, shiny sneek peek page. (OK, it’s not shiny and it’s a pretty rubbish secret too but you will get a sneek peek over there.)
It’ll be free to download (just as it’s finished!) but in the meantime, if you need some help getting started, the clues come out dancing at those times when you’re at your most relaxed. Maybe you’re around people who you know well? Or people who have known you the longest? For some people, these friends and family members bring out your most ‘you’ self.
Other just clam up when around these people of course. If that’s you then hey, don’t go there.
The trick is to look out for you at your most expressed. Keep a diary and literally write down the circumstances around that moment. Patterns will emerge.
And that’s your ‘thing to do next’ action. As ever, let me know how you get on. I love to hear about you being youier.