Schedules, Shame, and the Demon in my Computer

When to read, when to write, when to get drunk and thrown out of the local watering hole?

It’s all a matter of self control, and some of us just don’t have it. Recently as I reread Stephen King’s On Writing, I noted his strict daily regimen. Almost as quickly, I noted my lack of said self control.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to set a schedule for myself. In fact, I’ve set more schedule’s than I care to remember. The problem is following them. I suppose I like the idea of it more than I like the actual practice.

In my head, I imagine waking with the birds and clearing my head with a nice hot shower. Then, as the sun continues to rise, I make a hearty breakfast and steaming coffee from freshly ground beans. The new day beckons me, and since it’s so early and I have the whole day ahead of me, I go out for a morning hike with my dog. Refreshing.

As the eight o’ clock hour approaches, I prepare a new pot of coffee and sit down for a three hour session of writing. My fingers flash fast across the keys as I transfer every thought onto the page. Time passes.

Eleven o’ clock. Time for a light lunch accompanied by CNN, or maybe my new issue of Cemetery Dance. Noon brings some outdoor activities. Another hike perhaps? Or maybe some yard work or gardening, followed by my second three hour writing session at two.

A beautiful picture, no doubt. My mind reels at the sheer idealism. But the truth that emerges the day after such a visionary treat is sobering.

I wake at nine thirty after a night of debauchery and think, “It’s still early.” But after a shower and surfing the internet, I suddenly realize an hour has passed. No time for breakfast or a morning hike after all. I brew a quick cuppajoe from pre ground beans, and the product tastes like sawdust. I spit it out, cursing. Not a great start.

Convinced the day could still be saved, I head to my computer, where I’m distracted by e-mails and twitter for another hour. There’s a demon in my computer; I know it. I decide I need to relax with a good book, but after only twenty minutes, I black out. Waking four hours later in a puddle of sweat and shame, I slink off to the bar.

Idealism can be a brutal bitch when confronted with reality.

What’s your daily schedule? Have you managed to whip the procrastination devil on the ass and reclaim your day?

8 thoughts on “Schedules, Shame, and the Demon in my Computer”

  1. Excellent post!
    I also read and re-read 'On Writing' in the vague hope that some of Stephen King's strict routine will brush off on me. I am soooo undisciplined. I love writing, I want to write, I yearn to write…but…I still find myself doing other things that just eat up my time: blogging, reading, emailing, sleeping, watching TV. Take this evening for example – I had every intention of writing for an hour or two, but what did I do? End up playing The Sims on our PC with my daughter – creating a family. Sad or what?

  2. Thanks, Akasha.

    I know what you mean. The worst purchase I've made (in terms of wasting time) was my PS3. I don't play video games as much as some people, but I'd be surprised if at least 5-10 hours of my week isn't spent with my PS3 (and that's not counting Blurays or Netflix).

  3. Yes – I go into work early every morning so I can write for an hour or so before work. Then there's an hour at lunch time, and I can put in a good two or three hours when I get home, before I'm too tired to think. So in theory that's at least five hours writing every day… Back in the real world, I go into work and spent an hour procrastinating with a cup of coffee, passing the time of day with anyone who passes by. Lunch time? I have lunch and get caught up in an interesting discussion (or more likely, gossip). When I get home, I eat, maybe do a few chores, and… on goes the TV. As for serious writing – lots of good intentions, I assure you.
    I was more disciplined last year – 2,000 words a day every day – and the first book in my series of crime thrillers has just been published. I must get down to it again, as my publisher will be sending me a deadline for Book 2 one day and I need to be ready… So I'd better start right now. What's that you said? You heard some new gossip… No, I'm not doing anything right now. So tell me more…

  4. I just sit down and get to it. I don't set a time for myself though because that just doesn't work. I just make sure I'm there writing at least three hours a day. I know that sounds simplistic- but it works for me.

  5. Sounds like me, Leigh.

    I guess that's usually how I end up working too, Anita. Only, I probably don't get as much work done as you.

  6. I hear you. Real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of writing. I fall victim to it more than I'd care to admit. The key for me is to make it routine–just part of the daily grind.

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