Loneliness and Routine

23 10 2009

3702988177_d2efcc3eee_mi have been stepping up my game for the last few months. there are things in my life that i want to do and things i want to unveil within myself, and they just won’t wait anymore.

maybe it’s because i am turning 45 on tuesday and i feel a natural urgency being smack in middle age.

i have made a heap of mistakes in my life. i have treated people so poorly that when i look back, i wince in pain. i have had a challenging childhood that i have come to feel has been a tremendous gift because of what i have learned about human nature and how i’ve been able to transmute experience into understanding and compassion over the years through therapy and buddhism and art.

i am not a finished piece of work by any stretch of the imagination, nor do i want to be. i aspire to keep growing until my last breath. i want to always have greater understanding.

the main way i have stepped up my game is that i have incorporated a strong routine into my creative life. i have come to realize that the muse appears when we show up with deep regularity.

creativity feeds on routine.

this thought occurred to me a few months ago when i was talking with a new friend on the subway ride home from our wednesday night buddhism class. she had started running several months prior. she had never run before and she has now worked herself up to a point where she is able to enter her first 5K race this weekend.

i asked her a lot of questions about process. does it hurt? do you want to stop? how did you come up with the idea? why do you like it? when do you run? for how long? blah blah blah. you get the idea.

i have been spending a lot of time at my desk lately working on my memoir. i have been faithfully getting up and getting to the desk by 6.30 a.m.

i am at the desk for long stretches other times also. sunny weekend days, evenings, saturday nights…..

it’s not easy. to write or to get up or stay at the desk. it’s lonely. there is an inherent loneliness to writing that is unavoidable.

what’s interesting about this loneliness is that it is not full of a story-line that makes it painful.

the routine of coming here in the semi-darkness, lighting my candle and beginning to write is a ritual that will take me to my goal of a 300 page book if i am faithful to the routine.

it is taking me away from some things in my life. i am a little less available. my time is taken up by the bigger picture which i have pushed aside for many many years. i have never been a marathon runner. i am by nature a sprinter. i am changing that. it’s not easy to change for lots of reasons.

but i want to do this thing of writing a book which is not a sprint at all. it’s a marathon.

the important creative things we do alone. we need space and silence so that things can arise from deep within. routine is the vehicle that the muse gets into and together you go for a ride of being a channel for the work to come shining through.

and this isn’t just art. runners, meditators, business people, farmers, all need routine for any muscle to be built over time.

don’t be misled into thinking what you want to do will happen without a deep routine. we aren’t getting any younger. our mortality snaps at our heels and wakes us up out of childish ways and into a more abiding understanding that our lives actually go very quickly.

trade your small tin cup of instant gratification  for the hidden gem of bravery to be lonely while you dedicate yourself to the thing inside you that can fully emerge in the space of consistent routine.

the payoff is delayed and it is hard and lonely to be consistent over many miles, but what can emerge from us is work that cannot be found in short irregular bursts.

the muse can settle into the home we have created for her. there’s nothing to generate because there is no duality. the muse is an inherent part of us that we call forth and that will appear in the space of routine when we are alone.

have the bravery to start a routine towards something you love or want to do, but that you keep starting and stopping for a million reasons.

i’ve found my loneliness is actually good company on the long trek inward.




9 responses

23 10 2009
Danielle LaPorte


23 10 2009
Amy --- Just A Titch

Wow. I love this. In particular, this is a gorgeous line: “trade your small tin cup of instant gratification for the hidden gem of bravery to be lonely while you dedicate yourself to the thing inside you that can fully emerge in the space of consistent routine”

Thank you for this.

23 10 2009

I have struggled with the routine aspect of writing for most of my life (I am now 40), and recently, I started lifting weights…yep. Physical routine teaches us EVERYTHING, doesn’t it?

For example, when I first start a new type of lift, I can only do a few…but then it gets easier, and soon enough, I have a new little muscle (which is beyond exciting to me, for some reason!).

You don’t get that new little muscle if you don’t show up at the weights and the reality of that is so LITERAL in our physical worlds.

But it’s also literal in our creative worlds. We’ve just made it abstract and difficult.

Keep writing = finished book.

That simple.

Great piece, this. Eloquent. 🙂

23 10 2009

After being referred to your latest post by The Blisschick, I have read them all and could totally relate! But it was your first post stating how much you love the Yankees that caused me to comment. A kindred spirit…yoga, writing, etc and the Yankees too! Gotta love ya. Thanks…I’ll be reading!

23 10 2009

This is my first time visiting your blog. Wonderful post. So well said.

I’ve always heard it said that writing a novel is a marathon, but I never thought about the fact that I too am a sprinter. That simple analogy explains so much about my process and why it hasn’t worked so well as I try and write my novel. Thank you so much for making me think about this problem in a new way.

Also, love what you said about not being a finished piece of work.

Good luck with your writing.


23 10 2009
Friday Faves… « Just A Titch

[…] read this post this morning, and it absolutely took my breath away—creativity thrives on routine.  […]

24 10 2009

You never cease to amaze me birthday girl! Your artisty of words resonated on a deep level as I sit alone on a Friday night writing my final ethics project. Interestingly (is that a word ?) enough last week I had this conversation with a friend of mine; we talked about how my quest to obtain that elusive degree is stirring up feelings of loneliness,and insecurities that I haven’t visited in a while. Anyhow keep writing my friend; I’ll be your groupie on your world tour 🙂

24 10 2009

I turned 45 on Oct. 12. I have found the years between 40 and 45 have shown as much inner-growth as the the years 0-5. Amazing how we “find ourselves” in our 40s…your posts speak to my soul. Thank you.

25 10 2009

I also came to this post through BlissChick, and reading it helped me to crystallize some of what’s been going on for me around my own 45th birthday earlier this month. I blogged about it yesterday, and I’ll be getting up earlier tomorrow morning to create more writing time, so thank you!

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