Friday, October 05, 2012

I'm a Creature of Habit and I Like it That Way

Rituals. I have them. Do you?

I admit, I like routine. Somehow there’s security in it. Maybe it goes back to my childhood and the need to feel safe. For whatever reason, I like the idea of knowing what I’m going to do each day and performing that task in a certain, ritualistic way.

In the beginning, long before I even considered submitting my words for publication, I created a writing routine. I would get hubby off to work, grab my fur-kid, who was a puppy at the time, and put her in my lap. Then we would sit at my computer and disappear into a world of my own making. We would take the occasional bathroom break and grab a snack or two, but for the most part, I was glued to my screen and my fur baby was right there with me. At night, when hubby came home, we’d close down shop. A simple routine with few frills but it suited me.

Now, admittedly, it took me a year to write my first book but I was learning, growing as a new writer, and when it was finished, I had a 144,000-word manuscript. LOL If only I had known when to stop, I might have written a couple more books that first year.

Now, ten years later, my simple little routine has grown into a ritual I dare not break. Holding on to it much like a beloved old blanket, I find comfort in my habit. I rarely change my method, fearing it might get me out of my writing mojo.

I greatly admire those writers who can multitask. The ones, who, in the midst of their busy lives, squeeze in ten to fifteen minutes of writing when they can. What focus they must have!

However, I’m working on my twelfth book in five years, and though I’m sure there are smarter, more efficient ways to go about getting the job done, this works for me.

Here’s what I do before my writing day can begin:

1)    Drink coffee from a special mug. Yes, I have writing mugs. The mugs are a signal to my brain that it’s going to be a writing day. If I drink from another kind of mug, I’m off my game from the beginning. I have seven different writing mugs and, in fact, I just bought another one at Pier One last week. I liked the colors and thought it looked inspiring. The first day I drank from it, I wrote ten pages, so I think I’ll keep the mug.
2)    Feed the fur-kids and myself. Hubby fends for himself.
3)    After breakfast, my fur-kid and I head to my office. (She no longer sits on my lap but sleeps at my feet while I work.) I sit down in my chair and check the following, in this order: Email, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and book rankings. (Though, after several months of a book being out, I don’t look at the rankings because it bums me out.)

When I’m heading toward a deadline and really need to crank out the pages, I prepare by cutting my nails, cleaning my office and loading up on Pop Tarts, chocolate and wine. Then, I warn family and friends that I’m out of pocket for the next few weeks. When I reach my deadline, I order Chinese food from the restaurant close by, that delivers to my door, and veg out in front of the television.

Years ago, I read my first and favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips book, It Had To Be You. I remember how astonished Phoebe, the heroine, was by the rituals some of the football players went through before they went out onto the field for a game. At that time, I laughed and agreed with Phoebe at how silly and unnecessary it all seemed. Now, I can totally understand the need to do things the same way. Telling my brain it’s time to work by performing these rituals helps me get into my writing mode and stay there.

Now that I’m writing under two names, I’m contemplating developing a different ritual for my pen name. That way, when I perform certain tasks, my brain will know it’s either time to be Christy Reece and write in the world of kick-butt, action-adventure Last Chance Rescue operatives or that that I’m going to be in Midnight, Alabama as Ella Grace, where murder is afoot but the pace is slower and the romance takes center stage.

What about you? Do you have rituals or a routine you must perform before you can get to work? If so, please share. Who knows, maybe I need to add one more to make my day even more productive!

Comment for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of a Last Chance Rescue book of your choice. Winner will be announced Monday, October 7.


Twimom227 said...

I don't have rituals for work or even getting ready for work, but I do have my lists. If there is something I have to do or remember, it has to go on my list. Even if its after the fact, because the list would be incomplete if I didn't add that task. I'm very OC with my lists!

Ingeborg said...

I like routine. I also have lists for everything. I am very organized and I like it that way.

Dannyfiredragon said...

I like routine, first thing that I do every morning is to switch on my music player to wake up.

Kara C said...

You wild woman, you. :-)

Nothing happens at my house until I've had my coffee. I don't care at all what cup it's in. Put it in a dog bowl, just give it to me. :-) I sit, in the same spot in the living room, and check email and FB, then read for a while. Just while I finish my coffee. Slowly.

Now that I've written it all down, I'd say we both are party animals! LOL!

BTW, I love the idea of you having different routines for your different names. Bet we could help you come up with some ideas!

KayB said...

When I was working the ritual I had was to grab coffee, pens, cell phone, invoices clipboard run out the door and start transport van. But now it's kick my 110 dog off my feet, grab a bottle of water, let dog outside so I sit on porch drink my water and watch the the morning un

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Christy!
I LOVE routine...but I'm still working on the discipline to follow it every day. I, too, have the cup of coffee, check the emails, FB, Twitter, etc, and then get down to writing. When my day follows that routine, I have awesome word output! When I don't, umm, not so much, and it ends up being a late night of writing. Rituals are awesome and I see every benefit in them as long as they don't contain blood, chants and symbols...Snicker!

I love the idea of a special mug! LOL! And Pier One has a cool $5.00 mug sale going on now for autumn...

Barb Dolt said...

I used to have more rituals before human kids came along! LOL! The after work ritual was my favorite..small snack and cold drink with my feet up on the coffee table watching the early news before starting whatever was going on that evening (even if it was just coking dinner!). But now not so much. LOL I am list maker though. I couldn't live without them! And I like your coffee cup ritual, I used to have a coffee cup that I imagined brought me good luck for the day.

Kelli Jo said...

I wouldn't say my routines are to get ready for work so much as to get ready for the day. If I don't do things in a certain order, something is likely to be forgotten.

Even when traveling, or packing to travel, I go through my routines to make sure everything is packed. :)

krisgils33 said...

I am generally a creature of habit, parking in the same spot, sitting in the same car on the train, etc. But the only morning ritual I have it a cup or two of coffee before I can begin my day. I really consider this to be a public service to all of humanity that may be in my general area. :)

CrystalGB said...

I like routines. I have a morning routine that I follow every day that I stick to or I would never get to work. I try to lay out clothes and pack lunch items the night before to make it easier.
Thanks for the great giveaway.

Christy Reece said...

Hi Twimom! Oh yes, lists are my friends, too. I love checking things off!

Hi Ingeborg! I wish I could say I'm organized. I have lists but they're scattered through the house. On the upside, when I run across an old one, I get to check things off. Makes me happy! (:

Hey Danny! Oh, that's a good routine. Music can definitely set the tone for the day. Might have to add that to my routine. Thanks!

Hey Kara! LOL Yes, that is my nickname. Hmm. A dog bowl of coffee? Now that's interesting. Wonder what my fur-kids would think? And if you come up with some new routines for Ella, let me know. So far, she's acting an awful like Christy Reece.

Winnie Lim said...

I'm a very disorganized person so I don't exactly have any routine. Every morning, it's just rush and rush for me to get ready, fly out of the house and off to work. lol

Christy Reece said...

Hi KayB! LOL Those two routines are definitely different! The second one sounds much more relaxing. (:

Hey Naima! LOL I can promise no blood or symbols but I could get on board with the chants. Maybe: "Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to write I go." (:

Hi Barb! Oh yes, kids have a way of changing routines for sure. At least with fur-kids, if you give them some playtime and a full belly, they're set for several hours of snoozing.

Michele S. said...

My routine every morning is having a big ole cup of coffee before I can do anything else!!!

Alison said...

I like routine. Every morning during the week I do the same thing. I snooze until I hear the hubs get in the shower, then I go downstairs to start the coffee and make breakfast. Once breakfast is done I drink my coffee then get ready for work.

Cris said...

I didn't consciously set out to have a routine, but it turns out that my days end up looking pretty much the same: wake up long before the crack of dawn to take my thyroid hormone, get up ~1 hour later, go to the gym, shower, check email/the news/FB/Twitter/etc. whilst eating breakfast, spend all day in lab [I'm a science postgrad student], go to Krav Maga class, get home, eat dinner, read/play videogames/relax/plan experiments, & go to bed. Exciting stuff :).

I do, however, have loads of highly organised lists for everything. I love lists, especially for packing when I travel-- and I try to travel as much as possible!

Linda said...

I am not sure if it is a routine as just what I do darn near every day. I get up at 5 am most days and check e-mail and FB, then get ready for work and head out. I would say I follow a ritual at work for some things more then others. If I am going to do a surgery or have a critical patient I say a prayer that is always the same. And if I have a patient in for a "final" visit at the end of the procedure I whisper a prayer just for that animal to go in peace my friend.

leann said...

I have a calander that I use for my appts., schedules, reminders, what happened(diary), to do's, etc. If it weren't for these I'd go totally nuts. Thanks for the giveaway! Leann

Lisa J said...

the IT people in my office find it odd, but I have to have Outlook as the first thing on my task bar. If it isn't, I close all the windows I have open and open Outlook first. It's a simple thing, but it makes it easier for me during the work day.

lmjtgm at gmail (dot) come

Shannon Owens said...

I do, it's weird I didn't so much before but when I quite work to be a stay at home mom a routine developed. I get up 30 min before the kids have my coffee then get them up, I have two boys and need that time to myself first hand before to wake myself up, lol!! This started 7 yrs ago oldest is a senior youngest is a sophomore they don't need me as much but I still follow through. I'm a military wife as well so I guess I just need the structure too, keeps me sane, lol!!!

Shadow said...

I dont really have any rituals. I kinda just do what needs to be done. Thanks for sharing!

Crystal said...

Christy loved getting a little inside look into your writing life. Love that your brain knows what kind of day it will be by the mug of coffee. :) The only kind of ritual in my life is expect the unexpected... Although now that my little guy is in kindergarten getting him up by 7:30 every morning is turning into a very un-fun ritual.

Cari Hislop said...

I don't have a conscious routine, but I suppose I have one; I check my e-mail first thing, put on my headphones, stumble downstairs to make the Goblin's lunch bucket and iron a shirt, skiss him out the door (special side kiss) and then breakfast and back upstairs to my work room to play a timed word game (there's only three chances a day) and then open whatever I'm working on and see if I can get in the zone...if I'm not already lost in some day dream. It works for me! :)

Christy Reece said...

Hi Kelli Jo! Oh yes, doing things in a certain order definitely makes life easier. And I'm a terrible packer. If I don't imagine me getting ready each day and think through what I'll need, I always leave something behind.

Hi Kris! LOL I imagine that public service you perform is appreciated by many. And I love that you are such a creature of habit. I am too. There's comfort in the familiar.

Hi CrystalGB! Oh wow, you sound very organized. Good for you!

Tina B said...

I like that you have "writing" mugs. :)
I do not really have any routines, other than it must be caffeine before I can function. I am a SAHM and it gets frustrating to make a routine just to have to change it around the little one's nap time or potty training. Lol. I am just a go with it person now.
When I was working though, I had to have all of the programs that I needed to do my job open in a certain order. If one crashed, I woul have to close them all and open them again. People used to call me anal retentive.
Thank you for sharing. ;)

Jane said...

I quickly check my email and then head for the shower. I always have breakfast before leaving the house.

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

Christy Reece said...

Hi Winnie Lim! I can totally identify with being disorganized! And when you think about it, rushing and flying is kind of a routine. (:

Hi Michele! Oh yes, that big old cup of coffee is a must!

Hey Alison! That sounds so much what I used to do when I worked out in the business world. Snoozing until hubby got out of the shower. LOL The instant I heard it turn off, I'd groan. Hated that sound! Of course, that was early in our marriage when before hubby got in the shower, he would place a hot cup of coffee on the bedside table. Sigh. Those were the days. (:

Hi Cris! Oh my gosh, your daily routine sounds quite full and exciting. And how very cool that you train in Krav Maga. That's awesome!

Donna Coe-Velleman said...

I don't have a routine, either, but I could never do that 15 minute thing. My mind is just getting settled in by that time. :)

bn100 said...

Don't have any routines.


Arleigh said...

I don't really have a routine other than get dressed, brush my hair then teeth, then wipe my face off with exfoliating face wipes..same for my sister!

Christy Reece said...

Hi Linda, you're such a sweetheart. I can't imagine what you have to deal with sometimes. I'm thankful God gave you the gentle, loving heart to do what you do.

Hey, Leann! Oh, I know what you mean. I used to live and die by my calendar. I don't use a calendar that much anymore, though I'm sure some people wish I did. (:

Hi Lisa! I'm all for doing what works, that's for sure. (:

Hi Shannon! Sounds like a routine is a definite must for your busy life and as a military wife, too. And on a personal note, thank you to your husband and your family for your service!

Christy Reece said...

Hi Shadow! LOL If you decide you need one, let me know, I've got plenty!

Hey Crystal! Just when you thought I couldn't get any weirder, huh? (: And expecting the unexpected is a ritual all on its own. And yeah, there are definitely some un-fun rituals. LOL For some reason they always seem to involve getting up too early.

Hi Cari! Sounds like a good routine to me! And I love your word skiss (special side kiss). Making up words is such fun.

Christy Reece said...

Hi Tina! Sometimes the best routine is to just go with the flow. And I think anal retentive is just another word for brilliance. (:

Hi Jane! Sounds like a good routine to me!

Hi Donna and bn100, thanks for sharing!

Hi Arleigh! Sounds like a healthy routine. (:

Stephanie Queen said...

I wish I could get into a routine! It's tremendously hard for me to stick to any daily habits, mostly I think because I work at home by myself and the environment is completely unstructured.
Apparently, so am I!

I do lists, and more lists and tend to make them all too long and overly ambitious so I never think I'm getting anything done.

But in the end I always do, in my own roundabout, non-routine way!

Nana Alcelinia said...

Haii Christy,
I always do the same thing everymorning, get up prepare and take my kiddos to school then I'll go to work, that is my routine...everyday...

Thank you for the giveaway and hope it open international

Amy2read said...

I don't really have a routine lol it depends on my mood and how much time i have to get ready. I could wake up and get ready while listening to music or watch the news while getting ready. Usually have too many things going on to have a real routine.

Leanne Gagnon said...

Your life sounds as exciting as mine lol I start the day by sending the kids to school, drink coffee, do housework, maybe nap and then go to work. I finish work at 10pm so I read a little and then sleep. Next day do it all over again.
I live for the weekends :D

Christy Reece said...

Hi Stephanie! Oh, I can totally identify with an unstructured environment! Sometimes you just got to go with the flow because fighting against it can be so frustrating. But lists are wonderful, aren't they. LOL Except when mine show me what I didn't accomplish! But sounds like structure or not, you get things done. And that's the most important thing.

Hi Nana! That's definitely a structured routine! (: And yes, my giveaway is International. Good luck!

Hi Amy2read! Routine or no, if you get things done, that's the most important thing. And sounds like you do. (:

Hi Leanne! LOL I get excited about different things now than I did when I was younger. A deadline met, a well written paragraph, a good cup of coffee or a warm chocolate chip cookie can keep a smile on my face for days. (:

And wow, working till 10:00. You're super woman. You go!

Spav said...

I don't have any rituals but I always have a good breakfast early in the moning.

Mary Preston said...

I'm a creature of habit. I follow the same routine every morning. It just works for me & makes my day start well. It just makes sense to me.


susanmp said...

I am a stay at home mom and need routines to get thru the day with a 2 and 6 year old. I try to be organized yet very flexible because who knows what will happen with kids that you have to adjust to quickly.

susanmplatt AT hotmail DOT com

Christy Reece said...

Hi Spav! A good breakfast starts your day off right. That's a good routine to have!

Hi Mary! I totally agree! (:

Hi Susanmp! Having a routine but staying flexible. That's smart! I need to try that.

Bama said...

I just roll out of bed and get ready for the day.. maybe have coffee too :)

Christy Reece said...

Hi Bama (Love that name!) Rolling out of bed is always a good start! (:

Christy Reece said...

Congratulations to Tina B for winning a signed copy of an LCR book of her choice and a $25 Amazon gift card!

Tina, please email me at with your choice of LCR book and your snail mail address.

And thanks to everyone for weighing in on your routines and habits. I may have picked up an extra one or two. (:

Tina B said...

It was interesting to see other people's habits.
Thank you so much, Christy! Email sent. :)