Writing Routines and Ghostly Pastries

I’ve been on a break from the routine this week. I’ve been determined to get this novel finished so I’ve been having to work harder than usual at carving out the time to get it done.

My usual hour of tapping away at the computer before work has been subverted by the need to get up early and head out to catch a train. I could write on the train, but we’re talking popular commuter route into London here. The train is simply too cramped and overcrowded for writing.

The tube journey is a game of sardines with the thousands of others wanting to make the same trip into the City. I’d prefer to do the trip overground by bike, but even the Brompton seems like it’d take up an excess of space on the crowded train, so I dutifully wedge myself into the tube and rattle along.

Then I’m at my destination and I have time. A Starbucks, oddly quiet, and a quick twenty minutes with a pencil and a notebook and I have some writing done. Lunchtime, a sandwich shop, a table in the corner and more writing.

I’ve just spent an hour or so typing up all the stuff I’ve written over the week. I’ve surprised myself by how much I’ve got done, and how easily I’ve found myself a new writing routine. Next week my course will be over and I’ll back to the normal run of things again. I’ll be grateful to be back in the usual routine, the early morning commutes have certainly been tiring, but I’m hoping the success of a different structure to the day will remind me to try mixing things up every now and then.

One odd moment from the week showed just how mixing things up can rattle out surprises from a tired mind. Travelling the tube journey in the morning after having slept on the train into London, my half-awake mind was planning on a coffee and a pastry to wake me up. I could almost taste the sweet Danish pastry as we rattled along on the hot packed tube train. What was weird was that it wasn’t a Starbucks coffee and pastry that I was hallucinating. It was the coffee and pastry that I’d have every morning when I arrived at our Finsbury Circus office when I used to work there more than ten years ago. It was the same commute, and somewhere lodged in my mind was a Pavlovian craving for a breakfast from a decade ago. It was briefly alarming, but also rather comforting, a bit like seeing the ghost of someone that you liked.

Maybe what I should learn from that is that it wouldn’t hurt to mix up what I have for breakfast from time to time too!

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