I don’t set an alarm. I don’t need to. I’m a light sleeper and wake up a couple of times during the night. But when my back starts to ache, when I’m just rolling from side to side, that’s when I know it’s time. It’s time to get to work. This is how I begin each day.
That’s sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 am. I don’t shower or brush my teeth. I put on my running gear (shorts and a T-shirt), prepare my Amino Energy drink, and sit down at my desk. Then I capture the moment — the sort of haggard, sleepy look — with the camera on my iPhone and post it to Instagram, and sometimes Twitter. Proof that I’m up writing. Proof that I’m sticking to my routine. Already, it’s taken fifteen minutes before my pen finally touches the page.
How I Begin
I take my latest notebook (I try not to use the same one twice, so I have a diverse collection) and begin with my Morning Pages. Afterwards, I start the first draft of a blog post. By this point, I’ve been up for an hour and a half to two hours. The blog post isn’t done, but it’s time to get out for a run. I run under the veil of darkness, and when I see another runner it does feel like two ships passing in the night. The cool, crisp morning air fills my lungs and, running, I’ve gone into ‘the zone.’ I quiet my mind. I try to hear life speaking to me. Now I’m ready to take on whatever the day throws at me.
Back home, I peel off my sweaty running gear, throw on one of the ratty, fraying yet comfy ringer T-shirts I bought from Old Navy ten years ago and just can’t throw away, and finish the blog post. It’s a draft. Is it any good? Will people find value in it? I don’t know. I’ll come back to it in a few days to tweak it, rewrite it … maybe even chuck it out and start again. All that matters is that I’ve written something without letting procrastination have dominion over me.
Keep it Going
Even though I’m a morning person, getting up early every day isn’t easy. Some mornings, my energy dips low around 8:00 am. As a result, I crawl back into bed for forty-five minutes to an hour. I don’t sleep. I just lay there, let my body rest. Afterwards, I get up, shower, have breakfast, and park myself at my desk. I work on my primary writing project, which is either writing the first draft of a book or rewriting one. When I’m just staring at the spines of the dictionaries and thesauruses on my desk, I know I’m no longer being productive. The writing day is over, usually around 1:30 pm. I step out of my writing world and into another.
I don’t worry any more about how many words I’ve written, how many pages I produced, or how good the writing may or may not be. I’ve shown up and done the work. That’s what counts for me.
This is how I begin. This is how I make it over.
How do you begin each day? At what point do you know that you’re no longer being productive and must step away from the work? Hit Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.