a new routine

Recently, I’ve been sneaking out of the house while everyone is still asleep, and then driving to Panera to write. I work for three hours (fueling myself with coffee and a seventy-five cent hunk of baguette) before packing up shop. Back home, I go for a run to clear my head of the writing fog. After a shower, I fix lunch for everyone, and then we have a brief rest time before spending the rest of the afternoon on studies, cooking, reading, whatever.

While I don’t like the drive to town, I do like the endless supply of coffee, Panera’s relative early morning quiet, and getting on a first-name basis with the regulars. I also like that having a separate location helps draw a line between my writing work and the rest of my life. Writing at home, an hour here an hour there, I always feel guilty, like I should be writing more. But when I go elsewhere to write, there’s a clear end time — even if I haven’t accomplished much of anything (like today), knowing that I’ve put in the time helps to ease my guilt over never being sufficiently productive.

So far, this routine has worked great for the kids, too. They love sleeping in, reading in bed for a couple hours and then eating a leisurely breakfast, and they appreciate the freedom to do their chores (I leave a detailed list on the table) without me looking over their shoulders, urging them onward.

I don’t know how long this pattern will last — finding time to write is an ongoing challenge, dependent on the time of year, the kids’ ages and needs, and my everyday responsibilities — but for now it works.

I’ll take it.

And now, to finish, these words from David Rakoff:

Writing…always, always only starts out as shit: an infant of monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible, and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometimes forever). Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw, ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.23.17), and so it begins, world’s best pancakes, the quotidian (1.23.12), moving forward, chocolate cream pie, on thank you notes, five-minute bread.


  • Ernie

    I'm envious of your routine. I try to write at home but my 'work'can only be squeezed in around laundry, groceries,chauffeuring, cooking, etc.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    The other quote I like about writing is in one of the essays in Ann Patchett's book "This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage." Something about taking a beautiful butterfly in your head and ending up with a dead butterfly pinned to the page – but it sounds better when she says it.

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