As writers, we like our routines. They’re not universal – we all have different ones – but they’re sacred to us. I, for instance, like to do push-ups and sit-ups between scenes to clear my head. I go for walks or runs in the woods when writer’s block sets in, and I always drink chocolate milk to recharge my batteries. It has to be chocolate milk. The best ideas start there.
You’re the same as me. Sure, you may not do the same crazy things, but I know you’re the same. You have your own crazy things. Your own quirks and tendencies. Maybe you only write in your favorite chair in the breakfast nook between 5:00 AM and 7:00 AM. Everyday, rain or shine or apocalypse. Or, maybe you have to have three double-extra-large-super-size caramel mochachinos before you can even think about your WIP. You’re a slave to the coffee. And, maybe you have a special place you seek out when the going gets really tough. A special place for your heart and your soul and your writer mind.
Whatever it is we do or wherever we go, it works for us, and we like it. We don’t enjoy when our routines get messed with. At all.
So when certain aspects of our beloved residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts seemed to be changing, we did what any sane writer would do: We freaked out.
Schedules were shifted, dates were inverted, editors were thrown into the mix, and the New England Culinary Institute Café was rearranged. We couldn’t even get a bite to eat without our routine-centered brain being thrown into a whirlwind.
But, after my initial panic wore off and I got my bearings, there was something about the Café change that made me look around and think. I liked the change. Everyone around me seemed to like the change. The food stations were set up more efficiently, with several buffets providing many more selections for us hungry writers.
Things were most definitely, well, better. No doubt about it.
Then I thought, I can use this. We can use this. Routines are great, and they make us feel good much of the time, but they aren’t necessarily the best for our writing. A rearrange here, a POV change there, an open mind that our really cool opening sequence doesn’t actually have anything to do with our story and it needs to go…
Change can be a good thing. Different can be better. We just have to be open to it.
Peter Patrick Langella is a Dystropian, a member of Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults’ January 2013 graduating class.