It’s been two months since I wrote Structure, but am I doing any better with routine?
Well, yes and no.
For the yes: Thanks to a friend, I got a job tutoring local students in English (from home). After an adjustment period and an all-too-predictable crisis of confidence, I’ve found my stride and gotten to correct some pretty interesting essays. My storytelling skills have turned out to be completely applicable, as well as the reminder that young people are simply people who are young. I treat them with the same respect as adults and encourage them to explore their imaginations in their writing assignments.
And now the no. On days I don’t work, I prefer not to set an alarm, and wake up when I wake up. Making my bed and some coffee are my first priorities, then my days usually devolve into some combination of rewatching familiar TV shows and doomscrolling (often at the same time). Sometimes I go to the grocery store and grab fixings for easily made meals, sometimes I wait too long and am obligated to order delivery, and my confidence rises or falls accordingly.
When it slips down too low, I shut down and become a hermit. I return texts late, I miss appointments for naps, I either forget to shower or I spend too long in the bathroom. I become disconnected from time in the worst way; for all my romantic notions about being untethered, I need some firmer grasp of the passing of time in order to get shit done.
Why is it that I can be organized and on top of things when I’m being paid to do it for someone else, but I can’t apply that same skill to my personal life? Am I not the coolest boss I could ever hope to have? How many days off have I already given myself because I didn’t feel up to writing?
Clearly, it’s time to get back to work. My mentorship brought the entire first part of my novel to a much better place, and the gears have been turning in the background with thoughts about part two. My impostor voice is easily silenced by the number of versions of chapters I have gone through already: each one is an attempt in which mistakes were made and lessons were learned. Mistakes are beautiful opportunities.
Work on a novel is slow, and I am motivated by being able to share projects. I have most of a zine ready to go, and time planned out tomorrow to sit at my desk and work. Writing practice, zine work, a reread of part one where I add notes of my own to April’s, and anything else I can accomplish with whatever energy I have. (In an unrelated but relevant note, I’m also going to look into getting my phone fixed; I miss taking pictures.)
I owe this time to myself. The best way I can benefit from my past experience is to take the skills I used working corporate jobs and put them to use for myself. I can make a schedule, a to-do list, and organize tasks by breaking them down into steps. What is a novel if not the result of repeated writing and revision sessions? I’m good at repetitive tasks, especially if I’ve got good music to bob my head to.