A New Routine, by Zoe Burton

A New Routine, by Zoe Burton

In Leenie’s recent post, she wrote about getting organized. It was fabulous, as I always expect from Leenie. She is a very organized and focused person, and I greatly admire that about her.

My own post is going to be about routine. I have learned in the last six months that I must have a routine in order to write and publish like I need to, and when something changes in my life, it throws my routine, and my writing, out of kilter.


In June, when school let out, I was writing pretty regularly. Then, I bought Burton Cottage and moved…just as my teacher pay was ending and I became dependent upon my writing skills. The move and the stress involved threw my routine right out the window, which meant no writing got done. As a result, The Essence of Love came out a month late.

Then, just as I published Matches Made at Netherfield, I was blessed to begin fostering two dogs. Now, I am adopting them, and I adore them, but…having them has once again thrown my routine out the window. I sit today, writing this post, at a library in the next town (it’s quieter than the one in my town.) If the dogs know I’m in the house, they pester me constantly, and no writing has gotten done, other than blog posts, for four or five weeks.

Obviously, I was able to overcome the issue of the move and write Essence and Matches. How? Well, I established a new routine, and as I settled more into Burton Cottage, things just sort of worked themselves out. Then, Rose gave me a bit of a kick in the backside and Leenie helped me think through a plan for writing. Once I got “moving” again, it was easy. 🙂

I’m still working through the change with Jasper and Selena. Coming to the library was a good first step, and I have been able to write two blog posts in one day…almost one thousand words combined! That’s the most I have written in a day since the dogs came to me. Once again, Leenie talked me through some planning, and that plan, combined with the gates that are soon going to be reinstalled across my driveway, will hopefully get me writing at home again soon!

“Wait,” you cry, “What do you mean by gates?” What I mean is that the gate across the drive that enclosed my backyard needed repaired. Once it’s up, except for extreme snow, cold, or heat, those dogs are spending a lot of time outdoors so I can write! They seem to love being outside, and they hate leashes, so I’m thinking that it will work out well. Of course, they won’t be out there all day unless they wish it.  🙂  (Since I wrote this, the first gate is up. It needs a piece of fencing across the bottom so the dogs can’t get out, but it’s there. 🙂 )

Now for a question…how do you handle changes in your routine? Do those changes throw your productivity off? Do they make your kids crazy and hard to live with? What do you do to get yourself back on track?


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Sheila L. Majczan
Sheila L. Majczan
May 21, 2017 5:40 PM

In the past, especially when rearing my children, I was always very organized. And I also volunteered, leading a Girl Scout Troop, etc. I made lunches and drove kids to the bus stop and to many athletic team practices as well as meets and games. I also cooked from scratch rather than microwaved dinners or fast foods or frozen dinners. In my retirement I do less and less. I now use the microwave often and I don’t do volunteer work. But I do have a routine and do get out of the house for church and Bible Study and little trips to babysit grandchildren or go to the movies. Good luck with your family and routine.

February 9, 2017 5:22 PM

My routine has been off for almost a year and I don’t see it getting any easier any time soon. Last year I had a daughter graduate and go to college, as well as having my son move out of the house. After getting her at school, things got a bit easier, but with her home everyday during her semester off, she wants to spend part of each day doing things with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter and spending time with her, but having someone at home during the day definitely affects my regular schedule. I am trying to adjust it to make room for more writing, but the problem at the moment is getting everything ready for the tax man. At least I have two good WIP–one still being written and one almost finished. I set a goal for myself this year and am trying to make at least three books happen! Perhaps if I were truthful, my own biggest distraction is keeping up with all the new JAFF that is published. I am an avid reader and never want to miss a book. 🙂

Stephanie Mudd Carrico
Stephanie Mudd Carrico
February 6, 2017 4:54 PM

I am a creature of habit as my husband says. I enjoy the sameness of a scheduled life, but as I’ve gotten older I see the beauty in spontaneity.
Your Jasper is beautiful. Is he a boxer? We have two; they are wonderful dogs.

Rose Fairbanks
Rose Fairbanks
February 6, 2017 4:49 PM

As you well know, my routine has been monumentally disrupted and at this point I’m the one who needs a kick in the backside! In the past, I’ve had luck with just “chaining” myself to the desk to write. And it would seem even easier now because both kids are out of the house in the morning and Teddy can be quiet for a bit in the afternoon too. But a) I’ve been hurting after more than a few minutes on the computer and b) I just can’t concentrate. I will have to take yours and Leenie’s advice and plan plan plan plan. That way even if I don’t “feel” it I can just follow the plan like you do directions when you’ve never been to a place before.

Leenie Brown
February 6, 2017 2:30 PM

Oh, goodness! Glynis does have heaven, doesn’t she? 🙂 Lucky lady! I think you’re doing great, Zoe! Finding a new rhythm is not easy! I have struggled with that this year as well since, as you know, I am now homeschooling my teen son who has learning issues. However, after about 5 months of school, I think we have non-standard school/life routine figured out….mostly. 🙂 And I might have to send this article to my eldest sister with the “she is very organized” part highlighted. We shared a room for a while when young, and she used to get so upset with my “mess.” I guess I had to learn to survive with my two boys and hubby, and routine was the best way to do it. It is definitely an acquired skill not a natural one. But, I am happy to help when I can.

February 6, 2017 12:36 PM

Hi Zoe,

Thank you for an interesting post. I’m very happy for you that you found Jasper and Selena. It sounds like, for all their pestering, they’re wonderful.

I am obsessed with routine. I plan my goals for the year, by month. Each week, I start by planing my goals for the week, by day. I usually divide them into two categories for each day. What must be done (say, things other people are paying me to do) and what I hope to get done on top of that. Until recently, my writing was always relegated to the hope column. Renata can tell you, I was always behind on it.

My goal this year is to keep my writing work in the must get done column, to place higher value on it than putting out other people’s fires (metaphorical website building and managing related fires). My writing time has to be mine.

Well, okay, mine, my three cats, my family’s . . . but, um, mine 🙂

Good luck with the fences plan and your routine. I can’t wait to see what you write next.


Carole in Canada
Carole in Canada
February 6, 2017 11:44 AM

My routine is usually broken when I have the grandchildren or company. So, I just go with the flow until they leave, clean house and go back to my routine until the next visit! I must say though that having the discipline to sit and write each day, along with the creativity, must take a strong amount of will. I definitely admire all of you for that!

Teresa Broderick
Teresa Broderick
February 6, 2017 11:44 AM

All I have to say is well done you for adopting the dogs. There are so many unwanted ones who have so much love to give. I have two myself and couldn’t imagine being without them.

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
February 6, 2017 9:45 AM

Hey Zoe! Change is always tough. So you just have to pace yourself. I’m so happy you have such good friends to prod you on. They are the best. I know you can make it. Write I’ll be waiting!!!! Jen Say cute dogs, by the way!

February 6, 2017 9:14 AM

My life is pretty calm. At times it can be disrupted. I’m learning more and more to be flexible and go with the flow.

Nancy Lawrence
February 6, 2017 8:40 AM

I can identify with the way Jasper and Selena disrupt your best plans. I provide day-care to my grand-dog three days a week and on those days I know not to expect to get much of anything done. Like your dogs, Farley has a way of demanding attention (and I admit I like to spoil him a bit, too. That’s what grandmas are for, right?).

February 6, 2017 8:22 AM

My life is pretty calm so my routine doesn’t typically get interrupted or need changed. I do have 2 routines though one during the school year and another when my kids are home for the summer.

Elaine Owen
February 6, 2017 6:33 AM

If you ever figure out how to accommodate changes to your routine easily, please let me know! I’m a pretty laid-back person, but our daughter’s autism makes any changes to our routines difficult. Over the years I’ve learned to just grit my teeth and bear with the anxiety and upset until she gets used to it. This too shall pass.

February 6, 2017 3:05 AM

I have solved the issue of routine quite easily. Since I retired I don’t have one ?. I just go with the flow. Apart from the usual chores I visit my twin grandsons (born early last August but doing great.) I visit my mum and take her shopping. I Skype my daughter and 2 young grandsons in Australia. And I read JAFF and crochet/knit. My idea of heaven! Good luck with managing your writing and your dogs.

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