I thrive in a routine-driven environment. I love to know what is going to happen. I live and die by my planner, and my mental health is directly linked to how on top of my habits I am.

When it comes to my writing, I am my most productive when I have a schedule that I follow. I wrote my first novel in three and a half months because I had an hour to write after lunch almost every day. I was able to crank out one thousand words in that amount of time once I had my habit established, and I’m proud of that. (I’m currently flailing around while I try to find a new routine because I don’t have that guaranteed time anymore, but that’s beside the point.)

I’ve noticed an interesting flip side to routines though. Routines are ace for productivity, but they aren’t always the ideal setup for inspiration. In my case, I need to have an established routine in order to exercise my writing muscles, but I need a jolt to my system to come up with new ideas. My best ideas come while I’m travelling – it takes me out of normal time and into a strange liminal space where the hours of the clock no longer represent tasks, or in the case of crossing time zones, accuracy. It isn’t necessary to travel far, either; a day trip to the beach an hour away is sufficient, or a weekend at my in-laws’ place in the country.

It’s good for me to be reminded that both are important. Routine keeps me grounded, sane, and productive; being out of routine gives my mind the opportunity to try new ideas. Without routine, I’m ungrounded and stressed, and without occasional shake-ups I’m bored and uninspired. Both matter, and both make me a better writer.