For each of us, we have our anchors; those very things that ground us and keep us focused. For me it has always been a deep seated routine and habitual nature. However, as a counter balance to this I have also always been driven by a knack for being consumed by a passion to the point of what I confess could be called obsession. It has been a strength and a weakness.
What makes me good at some of the things I do is this very ability to immerse myself in a project and so long as I have something like it to direct my efforts everything goes well for me. The problem therein though lays with my very nature. It is when I lose that project or activity that I can direct my time and attention on that I fall apart.
As an example; I have often fallen into a routine in my mornings where I spend a portion of my time working on a story or some other activity. Inevitably though, I finish the story off or something in my life happens that completely destroys my habitual pattern. It can be anything from an unfortunate surge in my daily deluge of drowsiness due to my Narcolepsy to my children falling ill. It doesn't much matter what the reason is; all that matters is the fact that once my pattern is disturbed it can be hard for me to recover.
This may be interpreted by some as an excuse or just a lack of commitment. I mean, let's face it; if someone said they couldn't complete a simple task because they were interrupted that would be some pretty weak tea. I am not saying by any means that if I have to step away from working on something that I am forced to completely forgo any efforts to complete it. Far from it.
What I am saying is this; if I begin working on a story or project and fall into a daily routine/pattern of spending x amount of time on it, completing a set degree of progress or doing a specific part of it at a regular interval then if something disrupts me I may not exactly be able to get myself back on track easily. There have been times where I had a completed piece of work before me, but as I was trying to revise/refine it something occurred that prevented me from resuming my regular routine. By the time I was able to whatever factors that had me in the appropriate creative environment were gone.
Imagine being in the mood for Italian food but all you can spare the time for is a street vendor hot dog or supermarket check-out candy bar. You can always eat it and go on but it doesn't necessarily satisfy you. For me it can be like that if the various circumstances behind the scene place me in the mindset for a science fiction tale when I had been working on something fantasy based. I may still be able to produce something but without that drive it never turns out quite the same.
I've said it before; a writer can always write something - even if it is just something about a cheese sandwich. A repair man can also patch up a problematic part. It doesn't mean that it is a perfect fix. Sometimes it is just something that will work and get you by.
Myself, I am a husband and Father of four children. My youngest son struggles with a generalized anxiety disorder as well as obsessive compulsive tendencies and my youngest daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Even without considering their own problems, my health or the innate issues of four children interacting in a small house etc it should be obvious to grasp how easily life can disrupt your schedule.
Over the last few years I have had to have surgeries on my wrist, my neck and lost all feeling from the shoulder down in my right arm along with a good measure of function from it. And I am right handed. This hasn't exactly helped my productivity, I'm afraid.
However, with that said I have been working on a story I began some time back recently. Trying to jump back into it and get myself back into a routine to occupy my mind. Even with extensive notes or previous work to guide me it isn't without difficulty to drop back into a story in the middle and try to move forward without problems.
While working on this story I was contacted regarding another old story, or I should say an initial part of one. Albeit vague, interest was expressed in the potential continuation of the tale. A topic of which I can admit (like most of my stories) that there may exist more written about or at the very least some detailed notes covering the direction of things.
Even when things throw me off track that doesn't mean I have completely drifted free from my anchor. I may not be able to return to every story or project and for those that I do it may take some time. But I don't generally just start something without intending to finish it. I need something to direct my passion, I rely on a routine I can focus myself on. Sometimes I get blown off course and I have to engage in alternate tasks until I can find my way back.
I doubt I will ever be able to quit being anything other than what I am. To anyone else out there governed by a similar nature I can only wish that your own anchors, regardless of how much you may find yourself drifting away from them, remain tethered enough that you never lose them.
Stay anchored, stay driven and do what you love. Life will always be there to rock the boat.