We all know morning people are assholes. I come from a horde of morning people. I love them, but less so in the mornings. These people like to think and emote before breakfast. Sometimes before caffeine. I would never try to convince you to become one. But in the last week, I’ve gotten up at 5:00 am to write for an hour every day and it’s been sort of nice. “One week,” you say. “you’re practically an expert,” you say. No, no. I’m not. You have to understand something. I know the internet wants me to write posts for ‘you’, but it’s 5:00 am. I dislike everyone at this time. I’m writing this for me. For when the mornings get rough and I want to quit this goal. I can look back and remember what’s been good about it. If this post helps you too, it’s a side effect.
- The Beauty of Green Squares: According to the internet, Jerry Seinfeld had a method for practicing joke writing. It has become internet famous. He would make an ‘X’ on his calendar every day he wrote. The ‘x’s made a chain. He had to write daily to keep the chain going. I don’t own a paper calendar and am not going to buy one. I do have Google Sheets for spreadsheets. I track my workouts there. After I make my running plan, I fill each square in with green highlight when I’ve completed it. I like it when the sheet turns into a wall of green. I created a new sheet that says the same thing every day for two weeks: One hour a.m. When I write for one hour, I get a green square. In two weeks, I’ve added to this goal. Then, I’ll turn the squares blue after the morning write. And green later in the day. I’ll get to that in a minute.
- Narrowing My Goal to Something Simple: Writing for one hour at 5:00 am may sound hard. You have to wake up in the dark. This week it’s cold to top it off. Then there is morning thinking going on. I’ve always believed the sun should rise before my brain works. Ideally, the sun will be high in the sky before thinking occurs. It’s even harder to imagine genius at 5:00 am. I abandoned that idea. The goal is to write for one hour first thing when I get up. That’s it. Forger write something brilliant, complete a novel in a month, or even publish a post a day. I’ve tried those things. They’re all too much pressure.
- Keeping My Goal Small with My Eye on Growth: Here is the goal I would like to set: Write three hours every day–one in the morning and then two in the evening. It sounds obsessive and productive. Three hours a day! That’s close to what I read many professional writers without day jobs write. And I could do it. Technically, I have the time. I could cut out all TV and staring at the wall time. Forget energy, I never take that into consideration when I make my goals. Three hours should be my goal. It’s not though. I’ve tried that crap before. Energy creeps into the equation. I can’t keep it up and the goal goes in the trash. This year I’m trying to expand what I can do by easing into what I want the big picture to look like. I’d like to be an obsessive and productive writer. Prolific. That is a great word. But I’m not there yet. So, I’m starting with an hour. After two weeks, I’ll add more.
- Give My brain grace, but Not Too Much: The goal is not to type for one hour. Words don’t spill out of me like Jessica Fletcher in the beginning of Murder She Wrote. Sometimes I need to stop and think about what I’m going to say. My brain loves a good tangent. Anyone whose had a conversation with me will tell you. It also likes to think about what I’m going to wear on my run, phone calls I need to make later, and what’s Angela Lansbury up to these days. Is she still alive? I could Wikipedia her so quickly and know the satisfying but highly unimportant to my life answer. My write consists of me writing and me lulling my brain back into focus. I try to be nice to my brain, because she’s the only one I have and I want her to be nice to me. She makes it difficult with her erratic behavior, but I’m working on it.
- A Conscience Bedtime: I go to bed before ten. Every night I remind myself that this is what I do. The reminding must come long before ten. At 9:55, it’s too late to remember my bedtime. My nighttime ritual is less than five minutes, but the end of my show, chapter in my book, or puzzle always has more times. If I hit play next episode at quarter to ten, I’m doomed. I don’t know why I avoid going to bed. I love being in bed, especially in the morning.
- Forgo the Snooze Button: I have an alarm on each side of my bed. The right side alarm is a minute behind the left. This is my only backup. I’ve given up on the snooze button. If I’m working on my discipline this year, snoozing six times is the worst way to start my day. I don’t even enjoy snooze time. I don’t need it. When I have an early appointment, I get up. Believe it or not, I feel better getting up than I do with nine extra minutes of restless sleep.
Give me another week and maybe I’ll have a few more, but for now, six lessons in seven days is pretty good. I’ve learned less in more time. Now, it’s a matter of remembering these points before dawn.