The 19th century French novelist Gustave Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.” 

I like that, and I’m pretty good at the regular and ordinary part. Early every morning, I make coffee and serve breakfast to my canine assistant, Wilma. Then I sit at my desk. No email, no Facebook, no web surfing. I open a browser only if I need to look up a word or research something relevant to my story. I have an hour or two to write (violently and, I hope, originally) before one of three things happens: John gets up, I run out of coffee, or Wilma gets restless. I stop then, and take her for her walk. 

Having a regular writing routine has mostly good points. An hour may not seem like much, but in my experience novels get written this way. And thanks to routine, I never have to wait for inspiration. When I sit down with my coffee, the inspiration pump is primed and the words flow, as violent and original as I can make them. 

There’s one drawback: when I find that rare hour in the afternoon or evening to write, I’ve got bupkis. I can hardly bring myself to look at the page, much less write on it. What to do with that time? Clean the house? Go for a walk? Compose a song? With so many options I can’t seem to choose one, so I usually balance the checkbook. 

It’s all good news. For one thing, the second draft of my Work In Progress is coming along well. For another, my finances are perhaps original but not violent, and that kind of order suits me.

#Gustave Flaubert#office#Wilma#writing


  1. William Kendall - July 22, 2016 @ 12:34

    Go with what you know, and your morning schedule seems to work.

    • Petrea - July 22, 2016 @ 15:30

      So far, so good, William.

  2. Anne Louise Bannon - July 22, 2016 @ 14:50

    I never used to, but I’m starting to work at a regular time every day I’m home. It’s getting things done. And I’m happy about that. Nice quote, too.

    • Petrea - July 22, 2016 @ 15:30

      You’re already prolific! Now you’re going to put out even more books than you already do!

  3. Shelley - July 22, 2016 @ 18:42

    Love that quote, Petrea !! I’ve heard quite a few writers advocate doing as you do ~ turning up each morning with a fresh mind and no internet. I admire it !! I do well with some structure but mine is more fluid than yours. 😉 My yin and yang of fluidity vs structure are often at odds with each other ~ when I balance them: yay !! Wishing you, Wilma and J a gorgeous weekend …

    • Petrea - July 22, 2016 @ 21:01

      Thank you, Shell. I say, go with whatever works!

  4. TheChieftess - July 22, 2016 @ 23:42

    Hmmmm…sounds like a strategy that might work for photography too…

    • Petrea - July 23, 2016 @ 11:08

      Really? Cool. For editing and posting, you think? I know you when it comes to taking great pictures: you are an artist and you capture the moment.

  5. Bellis - July 24, 2016 @ 09:02

    Now I’m going to have to break off from my hour of reading blogs and Facebook and go online to find out what bupkis means, I really admire your discipline. I couldn’t possibly get started in the morning without a cup of tea and a look at the news, in case something important happened overnight.

    • Petrea - July 24, 2016 @ 15:17

      Well, coffee is key, I admit. But if and when I read the news I’m paralyzed. If anything happens important overnight I’ll hear about it sooner or later, like it or not. You know me. I don’t want to know about it.

  6. David - July 24, 2016 @ 11:06

    My regular routine of yoga, shower, breakfast, cycle into the city to work, drink way too much coffee, cycle home, shower, dinner, flump into the big reading chair, bed, got somewhat disrupted of late. This weekend it’s been mostly sitting on my fat butt eating junk food and watching le Tour de France. With the Olympics only a week away I’d better get some exercise in advance.

    • Petrea - July 24, 2016 @ 15:20

      Your routine sounds wonderful, from yoga to flump. And how nice of you to visit. Come by any time.

  7. Irina - July 25, 2016 @ 23:24

    So interesting to learn about your routine, so inspiring and motivating.

    • Petrea - July 26, 2016 @ 07:15

      Thank you, Irina. This makes me wonder if you have an artistic routine for painting. I imagine you do, because you get so much done.

  8. Lowell - August 4, 2016 @ 05:59

    Methinks you have an orderly inner system that allows you to operate this way which is a good thing. Some of us, not necessarily me, are less able to function in such a fashion for our lives are tainted with chaos. Or outside agents (children, old house, broken car, sick parents, etc.) all join together to blow our orderliness into oblivion.

    I tend to operate in a more chaotic fashion – so that I’m juggling several things at once, which makes for some interesting “accidents,” like turning off the computer because I was thinking about turning off the stove, or putting a cup of coffee into a microwave to heat it up while I go work on a blog and then come back an hour later and the damn oven is still beeping…

    You get the picture! :)))

    Wishing to you a great Thursday! Say “Woof” to Wilma for me.

    • Petrea - August 4, 2016 @ 15:38

      Well, I can’t be orderly all the time. Chaos happens. Some people are more creative in chaos and some are more so in order, and that’s one of the reasons why the world is a beautiful place! Just don’t put your camera in the microwave.

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