Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Importance of Life Structure

Hello to everyone. I’m excited to be here. Since this is my first post at The Writers Vineyard, I’d love to impress you all with my superior wit and grasp on reality. Unfortunately, we’re in a virtual world here and there’s no room for reality.

But seriously, let’s take a look at one of the most important lessons every writer must learn (and if un-learned, may lend to peril).  Many folks, including family, friends and readers, think of full-time writers as people who can say, “Poof!” and words will spontaneously appear on pages, rather like spontaneous combustion. In other words, they often think of us as non-workers because we don’t get up and rush to a job outside the home. To which we must reply, “Au contraire, mon amies! I research, plan, read the market, promote, network and when I get time I write. I also edit and revise and I have to do most of these things every day.”

Yes, there is a workday, Virginia (and more)! One of my all-time favorite movie lines comes from Morgan Freeman when he played Mr. Carter in Lean on Me. “Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm.” Writers need structure in their days to accomplish all that is required of them. I worked as a nurse for years until a drunk driver took me out of the game. I had often published in professional arenas but decided to try my hand at fiction. I quickly learned that writing required even more planning than running a nursing department. There has to be a scheduled workday and time off.

I lost my structure during a recent run of medical misfortune and putting structure back in the day after losing it is almost as hard as learning to walk again. The coming of the sun is a big help. Though I much prefer writing at night. I know I have to make myself wake in the morning and sleep at night. I know I have to commit so much time to the activities I listed above. I have to have structure or nothing gets accomplished and I end up with a four page To Do List and a messy apartment. (You know you’ve lost structure when you have to write don’t forget to eat on you daily schedule).

So I’m getting back in the groove. (Did I just age myself?) Now I have to make myself type. It’s always something.
On a side note, my heart goes out to all those in Boston who were involved in yesterday's tragedy. May America never forget.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You are very right, and if you live alone it's harder to structure your life.

My grandmother was born in 1876. She lost her only husband in 1939 and lived alone until 1981 -- an amazing woman. As a child I use to sit outside her kitchen on the stoop and listen to her talk to herself about how she planned her day. She kept a schedule until her death at age 105.

She left me the best possible gift, her memoir, which she had taken the time to write on an old typewriter when she was 78.

Mary McCall said...

What a wonderful gift, Julie! You'll have to published her memoires. People so often forget we can learn more about life from those who are golden than we can from anyone else.

I never understood why my grandmother went back to work after my grandfather died until recently. When therapy schedules run out and there's no job to go to, the question is why get up? We have to have the structure to remain focused on our purpose.

ellaquinnauthor said...

I agree, structure so very important. Lovely post. I tweeted.

Gerri Bowen said...

Structure is important, Mary, and oh so helpful to me.

Mary McCall said...

Thanks, Ella and Gerri. So glad you both stopped by.

Jude Johnson said...

Welcome, Mary, and thanks for sharing your story with us. Trying to restructure after a loss of routine is definitely as difficult as you said. Sometimes you have to rearrange your structure to accommodate a different situation or lifestyle change, but whatever it takes to get into the groove (yeah, we're that age) and keep the creativity charged is worth the struggle to maintain.


Big Mike said...

Add a wife with a yard long to do list, a grand daughter to take care of, a farm to manage and time for writing slips away.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Mary, I've used her memories, and catchy phrases in many of my fiction books. She deserves more exposure than that, but I've been remiss.

Annabel Aidan said...

Welcome to the group!

As a fellow full-time writer, I completely agree about structuring the day. I do my first 1K of the day early in the morning, then switch between projects the rest of the day, depending on deadline and $$ involved, but the truth is, if I don't put butt in seat every day, no matter how I feel, if I don't show up and do the work, I can't keep a roof over my head.