The Groove

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job. I’m probably one of few people working in retail that can say that comfortably. I like the people I work with, I like the products I handle on a daily basis, and for the most part, I even like the clientele. But if there’s one thing I have to choose about my job that I don’t like, it’s got to be that work is the one thing that is best at throwing off my groove.

I’ve always been more of a nocturnal person. I love sunshine and fresh air, but my inspiration is always strongest late at night. When I was a teenager, it wasn’t such a big deal. I was homeschooled, so it was never a problem for me to sleep a little late if I’d been up late writing the night before. I wouldn’t say my parents encouraged such behavior, but as long as I had my schoolwork done by the end of the day, they didn’t seem to mind. Even in the project I’ve been working on the past few months, I’ve found the parts that turned out best are the ones that I wrote later at night. This has led me to the conclusion that I have a late-night groove, and unfortunately for me, working mostly mornings brings about a problem.

Sure, I rarely work full shifts. Most of the time I only work 4 or 5 hours a day. I’m extremely blessed to have a very traditional husband, he only expects me to pay for my car and the insurance on it. Had we gotten a different car, he’d probably pay for that too, but when my Oldsmobile Intrigue’s transmission went out at the end of September, I insisted on getting the car I really wanted. So I only work a few hours a day, just enough to pay for my Mustang. The rest of my time is spent doing a whole lot of nothing, a task I’ve come to refer to as “getting into the groove”.

And the groove is a wonderful, incredible, fantastic thing. When I get into the groove, I can turn out a whole chapter in an evening. When I get into the groove, I can proofread and edit ten thousand words in a few hours. But as of late, whenever I’m in the groove, I’m nestled in bed, and might possibly be snoring. I’ve been trying for a few months to create a new writing habit, in hope it would change where in the day my groove falls, because working mornings after staying up until 2 or 3 AM writing just doesn’t really work! But it’s amazing how hard it can be to change one’s habits.

There’s a popular claim that a habit only takes 21 days to form. I know from experience that with my writing, that’s not the case. Of course, different tasks take different amounts of time to turn into a habit. Drinking a glass of water when you get home from work, for example… 21 days is plenty of time to turn that into a habit. I’ve written every day for a month, but that still didn’t put me into my groove.

No problem, research has shown the average median for habit forming is 66 days! Except I’ve tried that, too, and it doesn’t work. Okay, that’s the average median. Up toward the top of the scale, things that are hardest to turn into a habit, those can take up to a whopping 254 days to turn into a habit.

Ouch.

Well, with that in mind, to get me to stick to forming a writing habit, I’ve come to a fairly simple conclusion. All I have to do is establish a ritual of things to do when I get home from work, and go from there. I can work writing into it, and as more simple things (Such as getting a drink immediately after getting home) become habits, hopefully I’ll connect those habits to writing. Then writing, in turn, will become its own habit, and move my groove forward into the day! It seems pretty foolproof, but it may not necessarily be me-proof. After all, I’m no fool.

I’ve already started this project. In fact, I started it when I began writing the story I’ve now nearly completed. I’ve formed one association out of my new habits: I’ve come to associate drinking Starbucks with writing. This is great! This is progress! All I have to do is keep a bag of Starbucks coffee grounds on hand. Every day when I get home from work, I’ll just make myself a cup of coffee, which is really more like a cup of milk and sugar with a splash of coffee for extra flavor, sit down and drink it while I write. It’s worked great for a few days, but today, I encountered a unique problem.

My remarkably sweet husband brought me a frappuccino while I was at work, because I’d mentioned that I woke up still sleepy. I appreciated it greatly, gave him a big hug and bid him a good day, and happily sipped at my overpriced but delicious goodie while I worked.
Then something horrible happened.
I hit my groove.
At 10:30 in the morning, smack in the middle of my shift, I was overcome by the immense desire to drop everything and write. But there I was, still with hours of work ahead of me, a dozen little tasks to do, and no notepad in sight.

Oh dear… perhaps trying to move my groove wasn’t such a great idea, after all.

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