They go back to school today. They wear new clothes and shiny new shoes. They smile at friends and talk about summer adventures. They carry everything on their backs: folders, pencils, markers, scissors, rulers, hopes and fears.

They go back to school today. Some are ready. Others would rather be in bed. But, like it or not, they are drawn back to a routine that they know. They are reunited with structure.

Even though some would fight it, we humans are creatures of habit. We seek routine. We find it in the rising and setting of the sun. We make it when we establish a “dinner time” or  “bed time.” We get cranky when our routines are broken or disrupted.

I recently spent a week in Hawaii. By the end, I was ready to come home. I missed my bed, my schedule, my way of life. Though ordinary and dull by comparison, I craved my routine.

As a writer, I’ve learned that routine is everything. When I allow myself to lax into the lazy mentality of a summer vacation, I find myself watching Wendy reruns (How you doin’?) and napping like a newborn. I need structure to be productive. I need a routine.

The hard part of being a writer is establishing that routine and having the discipline to maintain it. No one tells me to get up and go to my desk. No one marks the start date on my calendar or tells me when it’s okay to take a long weekend. It’s self-imposed structure. And that’s hard.

Today, I renew my loyalty to my writing routine. I am not wearing new clothes or shiny new shoes. There are no friends to greet me at my desk. But my characters are calling. They have adventures to share. I carry hopes and fears. But I am ready.