My daily routine: from the first cup of coffee in the morning, to the last gulp of water at night.
A daily routine can be helpful when working on several projects at a time. The structure helps to keep tasks in check, keep your mind working right day-by-day, and even help finish work faster. I can’t say I’ve kept this routine every day since I’ve been here in Argentina, adventures arise often and most times it’s hard to say no to some fun in the sun, but I treated most days like a normal work day, keeping to scheduled breaks and deadlines to keep myself as productive as possible. Taking a year off to write in Argentina is not the most sensible things to do at my age, with the societal and economic pressures back in the states, but since I used my days to their full potential, keeping to a (somewhat) strict schedule, a “year off” can become a successful endeavor.
To check out the daily routines of famous writers, check out this great write-up from Brain Pickings, it’s where I got the idea for this post.
MORNING (8:00-12:30) — Run, Read, Teach, Coffee.
These are tough for me. I never enjoyed waking up before 10am, but that had to change if I wanted to get all my projects done and still keep myself healthy — body and mind type of healthy. I made myself wake up no later than 8:00 am every day, which was essential for me to have my afternoons and nights to my work. Also, mornings were different every day, here are the few variants I went with daily:
- Variant 1 – Gym, reading at coffee shop, going over notes.
- Variant 2 – Gym, teaching English, quick morning coffee with mom.
- Variant 3 – Reading in bed, morning coffee while going over notes.
- Variant 4 – Sleeping in, reading in the sun.
- Variant 5 – Going over notes, laying in sun, and swimming laps.
So, mornings were fairly open to interpretation each day, depending on how I felt, what I was reading, and if I felt like working out. Tuesdays and Thursdays usually involved teaching English to a student or two, but not every week.
LUNCH (12:30-1:30) — Abu, Story Time, Coffee.
A leading factor as to why I made my move to Argentina for the year was my grandpa. At 75-years-old, and with reoccurring lung problems, he needs someone around almost all the time, just in case, so he invited me live with him for the year, and he even let me enjoy lunch with him every day. Usually our daily chats would start with latest football news: who is being transferred where, what is Messi doing with his life, or arguing about Boca Jrs and River Plate. Then we bring up any interesting world news, mostly US or Argentinean news, and we usually agree with each other that the world is going to shit. Last, If I was lucky, he would bless me with old tales from his younger years: when Italian immigrants came to Buenos Aires after World War II and some kids were transferred into his classes, how he worked his ass off for Pirelli Tires and moves to Tucumán to open up a branch, or even stories of his father, a billiard cue maker, who would make sticks for the best-of-the-best in Argentina. This hour lunch with my Abu was often the highlight of my day… and not to mention the delicious food our housekeeper cooked up each day for us.
WORKDAY (2:00-whenever) — Homework, Writing, Coffee.
So, of course, throughout the year, as projects came to an end and new ones began, my allotted time for some of these topics changed, but not too much. For example, I only began this blog a few months ago (with about a month or two of planning), so those hours were spent on other projects, and since I finished my script at the end of September, instead of three hours on scripts a day, I only took one hour to work on edits and gave more time to write blog posts for the future. But that’s besides the point. I did my best to keep to this schedule, with the 30 minute breaks in between projects — usually spent catching up on shows or making coffee — so that I could get everything done that I had planned. It worked well, it helped me reach my goals, and even exceed them… I mean, I never really meant to make a blog this year, but look at me now, posting daily and having a blast doing it.
- 2:00-3:00 Daily Homework: I’ve gone through almost four legal pads of homework notes since I’ve been here, each of them branded with my favorite words: “LAZY HANDS BRING POVERTY.” This is my daily homework for my overall improvement which I started doing almost two years ago. Learning each day, with a cup of coffee in hand, I love it.
- Thoughts of St. Ignatius: my quote a day that I have followed all year.
- Word of the Day: Merriam-Webster gives me a word a day to learn and use. Gotta learn something new every day, so why not make that be vocabulary?
- Websites: This included a large variety of reading. First it was daily scripture reading, then it became literary periods studies, after that it was screenwriting tips from Syd Field, and now it has become random websites and articles (most likely from The Atlantic or some of my favorite websites).
During this homework time, I also have tons of ideas for further writing topics, future study material, and suggestions for reading and entertainment. So, these are crucial for me as they are great writer’s block remedies, whenever I freeze or am lost, I open up a random tab and find something new to write or read or watch or whatever.
- 3:30-6:30 Scripts: If you saw my post from September, with my writing partner, we were able to finish a feature film screenplay this year. We began a few months before the start of the year, and it still needs a lot of edits (it ended up being like 200 pages, so we have a lot to cut out), but I’m proud of the accomplishment, it’s another screenplay done to share, and had a lot of fun working on this with my buddy.
- 7:00-8:30 Blog: This is a second-half of the year project, but it’s been a joy being able to write about random subjects each day. Ideas and planning happen sporadically throughout the day, but during this hour-and-a-half is when I start typing and editing posts. Recently a new blog project has begun, it’s in the works, so we’ll see when that launches.
- 9:00-whenever Fiction: This is a tough one to gauge, since hours worked and projects are very unplanned. During this year, I’ve been able to work on:
- A collection of short stories done (still needs editing). Five stories, each about a different stage of a college relationship.
- Few more stories finished and about to be sent to literary journals.
- Daily writing for daily improvement, which I’ll start sharing on here soon.
- This month I’ve been working on my NaNoWriMo novel.
What I work on and when I stop writing are really up in the air, and I kind of like it like that, but at least I’ve been sticking to my post-dinner fiction writing. I will soon post a list of my finished works, and have some samples, but they need a little more editing to be ready for the public eye.
Now, I will admit that I have had some spells of bad habit, sometimes spending a week or two skipping the gym, not waking up early, barely writing, but that comes with the territory. I can’t sit here and lie to you that every hour of every day this year was spent productively, because that’s just not how it was. I wish it would have been like that, but things happen, moods change, and sometimes they take over and ruin plans. Lucky for me, I was able to break out of those two or three funks I hit, and get back on track. So, don’t forget, people falter, people fall, but get back up, get back on track, and things will be okay.
– Nahuel F.A.