Don’t get in a rut

As a long-time writer, I pride myself on switching up my tricks when it comes to newsgathering, brainstorming or character development (pride being the operative word here). I like to keep things fresh by trying different things. It makes me happy and livens up my writing, and is typically my go-to cure-all for writer’s block. So it came as a big surprise to me recently when I was all prepared to do a phone interview then whammo—my source insisted (yes, insisted!) that we scrap the planned phone interview and I drive to his office right then to interview him in person.

Leave my office? Now? When I’d planned my whole entire day around exactly this phone call?

I was downright irritated.

And that’s when it hit me: for all my so-called adaptability when it comes to writing styles, tricks and tips, I’m just as stale as can be when it comes to my routine. Give me a plan and I’m there—almost too there. I’m supposed to drive two hours away for a face-to-face interview? You betcha! Skype with someone in South Africa to get the story? Sign me up.

But change the plan once I’ve seared it to my brain? Heavens forbid.

It made me realize just how addicted I am to routine once I’ve set it—and how that sort of strict adherence can actually backfire on me.

I did go interview the man face-to-face that day, and the sky didn’t fall. It was a great interview, and shaking up my day did a lot for my mindset. I think it made for a better story.

These days, I’m still routine-oriented. I still make a plan and stick to it, for the most part.

But I’ve come to understand that last-minute changes are not to be feared but rather to be embraced. For sometimes there’s a hidden lesson that just might make us stretch and grow in ways we never imagined.

Thanks, Mr. Insistent Source. You did me a world of good.