“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.”

Shunryu Suzuki


“The less routine the more life.”

Amos Bronson Alcott


“The secret of your life is hidden in your daily routine.”

Mike Murdock


“As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge.”

Henry Van Dyke


I am a creature of routine.  I adore my routine.  I like to get up in the morning, have a cup of tea, read the paper, eat breakfast.  Take the dog for a walk, come home, have another cup of tea, check my email.  Then I can shower, get dressed, and start my day.

If this routine is disrupted, I feel off.  I get cranky.  I like things to go as they are supposed to go.  I like to go to bed at the same (insanely early) time every night.  I like to watch murder documentaries while I fall asleep.  I like my days to be predictable and for things to happen when they always happen.

Of course, in between my morning routine and my evening routine, I kind of like to have a varied bunch of things to do throughout the day.  So, I have to wonder, am I really a creature of habit, or some sort of hybrid?  And is it a bad thing to be bound by routine?

As you can see by the quotes above, there are lots of opinions on this question.  I kind of like the zen quote… but, being someone who likes routine, of course I would.  I dislike the quote about routine preventing new dimensions of the soul from emerging, naturally.  So is it a good thing to have a routine, or am I hampering my creative process by sticking to the same day-in, day-out?

I can adapt, don’t get me wrong.  I can deal with it when my routine doesn’t happen.  Like I said, I get grumpy sometimes.  But I can do it.  And I don’t spend the entire day stuck into a lock-step pattern, either.

As I’m typing, I am thinking this through.  I think that actually, routine can be a help to the creative.  For myself, I know that I have to write regularly, or I don’t write at all.  If I wait for inspiration to strike, I will generally wait a long time.  A lot of the reading I have done on being a writer states that an aspiring writer should sit down on a regular basis and just write, whatever flows out the fingers.  And I know from my own experience that I write more and write better when I do just that.

So I think that rather than blocking my creativity, routine might actually be the secret that sets it free.  I am trying to set aside a certain amount of time on a regular basis to just write.  Part of that is the revival of this blog — I can come here and just do it, consciously leaving my perfectionism aside for the duration.  (Not an easy thing to do!)  I think I will experiment with this idea, and see if devoting regular time to write makes the difference that I suspect it will.  Now I just have to follow through, another not-easy thing to do!