Sunday, January 12, 2020

How I Became a Morning Writer

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week involves our writing schedules – what’s our most productive time of day, when do we actually write, how much time each day, week, month, etc.

I chose this photo I took of the moon at sunrise, because seeing amazing sights like this has become one of the great benefits of being an early riser. Who knew that catching the moon at dawn could be so very beautiful? I certainly didn't, because I was never naturally an early bird.

See, I was one of those who *loved* to sleep in. In the early days - and years - of our relationship, the hubs and I would sleep until 10 or 11am on the weekends. I'm groggy in the mornings, slow to come alert, and not particularly talkative. People ask me questions and I blink at them in incomprehension. Conversation, not so much.

BUT... I can write.

I discovered that mornings are my most productive time of day when that was the ONLY time of day I could consistently write. Those first few years after I committed to being a writer, I struggled - as many newbies do - to actually produce work. I had a busy life - a full-time career in science, two young stepchildren, debt we were determined to pay off (and did!), classes in the evenings (both taking and teaching) - and not a lot of "free" time. Waiting for that time to write to fall into my lap definitely wasn't working. Sandwiching in a bit of writing before I went to bed - delaying sleep when I was already exhausted - meant I got nothing done, very little done, or what I wrote was utter drivel.

I finally too the advice to write every day at the same time. I resisted that for years, but ultimately I knew I had to do SOMETHING different. So, I tried that, and it worked for me.

That meant, however, rising very early in the morning, because those dawn hours were the only ones when I had nothing else booked. I could write for an hour or two in the pre-dawn darkness, before anything else kicked in. That meant rising at 4 or 5am for a few years there. Some of the stuff I wrote then is pretty wild, but I built the writing habit, and it's stuck.

Now that I have the luxury of writing full time, I don't set an alarm. I get up when I wake up - usually after lying there for a while gazing dreamily out the window - and that's done wonders for me being actually alert when I'm on my feet. (I think when I made myself get up at a particular time, I wasn't always fully awake - thus my inability to process much in the way of conscious thought. I was upright, but I wasn't AWAKE.) I wake up between 5 and 7am, and mornings are devoted to writing, for the most part.

I find that if I can get my 3K words/day done by early afternoon, that's ideal. Generally I work in 1-hour sessions, with about a 30-minute break between. I'm not always good about keeping the breaks short, which I'd like to get better about in the new year. Most days I write 4-6 hours, with 3 hours of that actual fingers tapping on keyboard.

I'd really like to consistently get that down to 4 hours total, saving the time-sinks of chatting, social media, email, etc., for after the words are down. That's one of my goals for this year, so we'll see how I do!