Structure Is Hard

When I worked in an office I eventually fell into a morning ritual. Wake up, hit snooze, wake up, snooze again, wake up, shower, eat cereal, stare at glowing rectangle, get in car, drive, arrive, remove coat, turn on computer, collect mug, go to staff kitchen, make tea, discuss what was watched the evening before, return to desk, check email, grab pad of paper, go to morning meeting. Some version of that, five days a week. There were variances, sure, but in general that’s how the day would start.

I don’t work in an office anymore, I work in a room I’ve converted into an office that has a full sized bed that I’ve tried to convert into a little sofa with the aid of way too many pillows. I have a window that faces the back yard and I sit most days with my legs in an weird position which causes one or both of my feet to fall asleep multiple times a day. I’ve tried to come up with a routine, a way to ensure I get as much writing and reading done as possible, but without the structure of an actual office and its people holding me accountable, my mornings are slow. I get up, I pee, I take my medicine, I read from the glowing nightmare rectangle for an hour, (I can’t eat for an hour after I take the meds) I move to the kitchen, I make tea, I eat cereal, I read from a book, typically non-fiction, thought not always. Sometimes I make the bed right when I get up, sometimes it happens later. This morning before I ate I finished the dishes from last night.

Now I am in the office, typing, trying to get the machine moving. I haven’t showered. I wonder if that would help the routine, if I just got up and showered. Or if I took the meds, then showered to take up some of the not being able to eat time. But I have the best intentions of writing for awhile and then exercising and I feel like if I shower first I’ll have to shower again. Too inefficient. But then I don’t exercise because I get distracted and then the shower happens at one or two or three. Some days I write 3000+ words, some days only 300. I try to read every day, a little in the morning and a little at night. I try to enforce a rule that if I’m not writing during the day then I should be reading, but then I look at my computer and research recipes for cucumber simple syrup, or read the Wikipedia page of some celebrity which leads me to another Wikipedia page on some obscure disease, and well, I don’t have to tell you how that ends up.

The entirety of my working life, from my first job counting people who came to my father’s radio station remote at the Iowa State Fair, to the job at the video store, to the hardware store job, to the fabric store job, to the bank teller job, to the library job, to the studio monitor job, to the Dean’s office job, to the retail housewares job, the ceramic factory job, the museum job, the corporate job, and finally the public radio job has trained me to be in the business of pleasing other people. To figuring out a a routine, a structure, and then working within that to please other people. I have no idea how to apply that same rigor to a task I have given myself and am the only person who will hold me accountable.

I am trying, I am. And when I try to imagine myself doing anything else right now my mind can only imagine sitting at a desk, in the back of my house, typing on a keyboard. I know I need to see this through to its conclusion, whatever that conclusion may be but it’s hard without the structure. I wonder if I need to write down a plan for the morning, a checklist and then stick to it for a couple of weeks and see if it works. I did it for running, it might work for writing too. It’s almost ten o’clock. At the end of this sentence I will have written 721 words.

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