Maintaining a Writing Routine as a Mature Adult

Want to write more often? Maintaining an effective routine is key, but what works at one point in life may not at another. My guest today, Lindy Mailen, is here to share her story. Over to you, Lindy.

As I am quickly approaching fifty years of age, I can finally admit I’m getting older. Not only that, but it has been happening for a while. I’m okay with that because along with age comes a certain amount of experience and wisdom—at least from a broad sense of view.

The downside of that, however, is that I no longer care. Isn’t life funny? I have lived long enough to know that there are continuous cycles and phases and that everything eventually passes—the good as well as the bad. I am sure Karma is going to kick my butt for saying that, but it’s Karma’s fault I see life this way. Reading and writing with others has offered me plenty of examples that this is a fairly common viewpoint. It is what it is.

I have noticed several changes in me that are affecting my writing and writing routine. It has only been a couple of years since I established a daily writing routine, with the help of Faye Kirwin via the Write Chain Challenge and Writember Workshop. Both of these activities have made me a stronger writer and Faye has just been the best support. If you are just starting on your writing routine, I highly recommend getting involved in these activities. However, as I age and change, I have noticed that my current routine is no longer working.

A brief list:

  • I have more time, but less energy and focus.
  • I need to get up and move around more frequently.
  • My short term memory is starting to slip.
  • My eyes, ears and hands don’t work quite as well as they used to.
  • My health needs more attention on a daily basis.
  • More life experience means a better understanding, but I’ve become crotchety about the whole thing.
  • I have less patience and a shorter attention span.
  • Don’t get me started on the aches and pains, we’ll be here all day.

I am slowing down.

This presents a few problems if you’re trying to start or maintain a writing routine. With all the physical, mental and emotional changes going on, we tend to become more resistant to change. It’s very important that you monitor any existing routine for things that just aren’t working anymore. For instance, I have been writing in the mornings because that’s when I am most productive. However, I have noticed that my creativity is not up to par lately. I am going to have to review my schedule and try to write at a more optimal time.

Another thing is that I cannot stay up all night writing anymore. I must have a regular bedtime, as well as a regular wake up time. When I was younger, I could go for several days without sleep. I can’t do that anymore. In fact, I have to get up from the computer about every twenty minutes and move around. I try to take advantage of this time by tending to small mindless chores, so I don’t lose my train of thought completely. Plus, I get those little things out of the way. Five to ten minutes is usually good, for me. Do what works for you; just don’t become stagnant. The mind needs circulation just as much as the body does.

Something else interesting is that I have noticed more whining and bitching in my writing. I think this goes back to the crotchety thing. I have less patience and more cynicism for the world in general. At the same time, I don’t have enough energy to get up and actually do anything about whatever minute thing has instigated me—usually, that is. And, while my schedule is opening up with my youngest getting ready to fly the coop, it is also quickly filling up with all these little things my doctor wants me to start doing. Yes, it’s like swapping one life for another and it can get frustrating.

Here are a few little tips I use to help me get through my writing routine:

  • Turn the computer off once in awhile. Go outside and experience life.
  • Get up and walk around every so often to circulate.
  • When you do walk away from your writing, leave mid-sentence to jog your memory when you return.
  • Speaking of exercise, if you really want to rev up your creative juices, develop a regular exercise routine. I prefer walking and I use that time to listen to my favorite music, too.
  • Take handwritten notes. This applies to just about anything you need to remember. The hand-to-eye connection helps reinforce things and typing just doesn’t offer that.
  • Shut out the noise. This is a hard one for me because I do still have to keep an eye on what’s going on in the house. I do shut my door some, though. I put my husband in charge and I close the door. Even though my hearing is starting to go, background noise hinders my focus, which is slipping too. Haha. Turn off the TV, radio, YouTube or whatever else you have on that is making noise. Umm, not the medical equipment, though. I even turn off my phone ringer and alarm sounds. Just peace and quiet for an hour or so can really recharge.

I will say that this is also a time of my life that I can truly appreciate being a writer. My physical world may be closing in, but my imagination has matured and is wide open. Writing offers me a world without pain or limitations. What can I still do? What can I NOT do? It’s a world in which my thoughts and words matter as I chisel them into stone for generations to come.

No, I never expected to be a famous writer or even a (traditionally) published author. I only expect to live forever in words. Every writer is read at least once—how else could we ever be critiqued? Plus, only one line of all that I write needs to take root in another human being’s mind for any of this to be worth the effort.

I hope I have offered some valuable advice here. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep writing!

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