On Coffee, Schedules and Freelance Happiness
I awoke at 7:00 this morning, just as I usually do, and shuffled downstairs to pour myself a cup of rich, black go-juice. To say I am addicted to coffee would not be a stretch. However, I only drink it in the morning. For me, it’s akin to spraying starting fluid into my writer’s carburetor. I would say I ‘cannot’ live without it, but the truth is I don’t want to live without it.
As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I noticed the glass coffee pot sitting on the granite countertop instead of nestled within the coffeemaker like it should have been. The carafe sat cold and empty. I silently cursed my husband, whose job it is to set the coffee up the night before so we awake to fresh, hot java every day. Occasionally he forgets. Last night must have been one of those times. No matter. I would just make it myself.
I filled the carafe with water from the tap and began to pour it into the machine’s reservoir. This produced an uncharacteristic splashing sound, as if the reservoir were already full of fluid. A quick dip of the index finger revealed, yes, the coffeemaker held water. And coffee grounds (100% Columbian).
What’s going on here? I asked myself before settling the coffee pot on its little metal warming plate and pushing the ON switch.
Eyes closed, I stood, swaying gently, in the dim kitchen, awaiting the characteristic hiss and burble sounds that accompany brewing coffee the modern way. Yet the coffeemaker sat mute. I heard no gurgling, no whooshing.
I pushed the button to turn the machine off and then pushed it again to turn the thing on. Nothing sensical could register in my un-caffeinated brain. What the hell is going on here? I murmured with irritation.
I laid my hands atop the device, as if I could faith-heal it into working. It felt cold as a day-old corpse.
And then reality descended. My brain revved. My eyes opened wide. The coffeemaker was broken. There would be no coffee this morning.
Disruption is good because it means you have a schedule
I don’t think I literally screamed as the horrible realization dawned, but I knew I would begin to severely decompensate if I did not rectify the situation quickly. Using my nurse’s skill of formulating a care plan with alacrity, I decided I would first post about my hideous bad fortune on Facebook (natch) to elicit sympathy from my friends. Then I would dress, jump in the car and go around the corner to Starbuck’s. I would pick up at least three Venti-sized black coffees. My day would be saved.
Nobody likes to begin their day with a major disruption like this. (Memo to self: buy a French press as Plan B.) But it happens. And, honestly, disruption can be a good thing because it means you have a schedule. Schedules = good.
When you are a freelance writer, it is easy to fall into the habit of winging it every day. You know what I mean: get up when you feel like it, work when you feel like it. Let me tell you, if you choose that path you will never be as productive as you could be if you maintained a schedule. You cannot wait for the muse to descend. You must court the muse, and, shockingly, the muse responds best to a fanny in the seat of a chair and the fingers hovering above the keyboard.
Schedule = happiness
Admittedly I’m a slave to my schedule. I get up at the same time every morning. I drink coffee on the deck. I read the overnight headlines on my phone. I water the landscaping and play with the dog. Then I buckle down to work.
I’m not suggesting you should force yourself to work in the morning if you’re a night owl. I’m not suggesting you should work until 2:00 a.m. if you’re a lark. What I am suggesting is you find the work schedule that, er, works for you and stick with it. You might be surprised at how much you can condition your neurons to produce prose when they hear your “writing music” playing on Pandora or view the familiar panorama outside your office window.
I know very successful freelancers who work at all hours of the day, but the trait they share in common is of working the same schedule every day and week.
As I guzzled down two cups of steaming Pike Place roast this morning, I counted my blessings. I’m grateful I can set my own hours, enjoy mornings on my deck and, yes, even suffer the occasional schedule disruption. These small disturbances remind me of the things I love about freelancing. Now it’s time to get to work.
Do you maintain a writing schedule? Are you addicted to coffee? Tell us in the comments!
Wishing you well,