They point, stare, joke, and occasionally show real concern, those non-writers of ours. They don’t understand why one color is more important than another, or why this food is more advisable than that one. They ask why we do things how we do them. They ask why we take the long way around instead of a shortcut, not understanding that the walk down the path is more important than the path sometimes. When we do deign to take a shortcut, our sensibility is doubted; surely we should do more than glance at certain details.
Never mind that going over certain territory is hell no matter what. Never mind that loafing about for two days is the perfect prescription for a few intense hours of work. Never mind that skipping some levels of editorial philosophy is sometimes vital for the continued retention of our sanity – or, strangely, that pushing on through and foregoing a night of sleep is equally vital if you suspect that you can’t confront something a third and fourth time. We simply don’t do it their way, and that by itself is enough to raise questions. They might be well-meaning questions, and they might even be asked kindly, but they’re still questions. They’re still jostles at best and infected fleabites at worst. Maybe we love the people who give the advice, but we hate the things that come out of their mouths.
Yet in the midst of our peculiar habits, we sometimes find more traction than those who profess to do things the proper, normal way. Some things don’t bother us at all – and thank goodness for that, because it’s barely a counterweight to everything that makes us want to rip our scalps off in annoyance. Occasionally, we end up looking – and being – stronger than them.
So despite what they say, my dear anonymous friends, remember this: the only bad routine is an unhealthy one. I’d say that the only bad one is an inefficient one, but this can be dangerous ground since efficiency is an unwieldy thing when observed by the inexperienced. Want to write in alternating hours of the day? Go for it. Want to curse in a second language during draft revisions? Absolutely. Want to eat jalapeño peppers with ice cream, chutney, and bacon before a long haul? Sure. Just find what suits you and dig your nails into it as hard as you can for as long as you can – because no one else is going to figure it out for you.
Writing is as bizarre as it is demanding. We’re only rolling with the punches.