I’ve never liked schedules. I’ve always hated having to make appointments, having to be anywhere at a specific time on a specific day. Still, once I became a full-time writer, I did have a daily routine of sorts. I didn’t get up every morning at the same time, write at the same time, or anything so rigid, but it was a routine nonetheless. Breakfast, exercise, errands, lunch, writing, dinner, unwind, sleep.
Pretty boring, huh?
As I grew older and my memory, eyesight and stamina were no longer what they used to be, that routine became necessary. It was taking me much longer to finish a novel than it did during my years in conventional publishing. I was no longer as focused as I had once been. And to further complicate matters, along came social networking.
The more time I spent online, the less time there was for writing. My daily routine became nonexistent. I found myself doing email on my phone before I even got out of bed in the morning. I was taking it with me to the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room…I was online most days from seven in the morning until six at night, and by the time I finally got offline, I was so burned out I’d fall asleep in front of the TV. I couldn’t miss the annoyed looks I was getting from friends–and even from Collin–when we’d go out to lunch and I’d start answering email in the middle of the conversation.
I was no longer mentally able to write. The housework wasn’t getting done. I wasn’t getting any exercise, so I was starting to gain weight and my blood pressure was climbing. In short, my health was declining. I was distracted and irritable but trying to figure out how to fix the problem without offending any of my online friends. But a couple of them had cut back on their own online time, so maybe everyone would understand, after all.
It was time to get back to that old routine.
Now, I’m online no more than three hours a day. I don’t check email before I get out of bed. I don’t even check it before I’ve had breakfast. I no longer eat with my smartphone in one hand. If email comes in while I’m taking a shower, it will have to wait until I’m back online.
I haven’t actually finished a novel since 2009. The only new ebooks I’ve released this year are from my Berkley backlist. That’s about to change….