I write pretty much every day. Even in between drafts, I’ve gotten in the habit of using that time for writing-related activities, such as reading a book about publishing, or composing a blog post. For me, the best time to getting writing done is right after I eat breakfast and get dressed. Even on the weekends, when I tend to be a little more relaxed, I usually get my writing done in the AM hours. And sure, this took a little effort to get going, but I found it to be 100% worth it in the long run.
And here are the reasons why:
The crippling effects of age
When I was in college, night time was when I had the MOST energy. Those late night hours were chock full of playing video games and watching anime with my boyfriend (much sympathy to the person who slept on the other side of that wall). The morning was for rolling out of my bed, and dragging my exhausted ass to chemistry class, where I would struggle to stay awake, mentally cursing myself for not being one of those “morning people.” You might be able to see where the error in my thought process was.
Fortunately/Unfortunately, now that I’m in my 30s, staying up that late isn’t even an option.
After an eight-hour day at work, I’m not going to say that I have NO energy, but I’m not usually up for doing something that requires a lot of creative juice. And although my eighteen-year-old self would faint in shock at the idea, I really do get my best writing done first thing in the morning, after a good night’s sleep.
Just get it out of the way
A lot of conventional advice says that you should get writing out of the way first thing in the morning, because it allows fewer opportunities to procrastinate throughout the day. And well, that’s not wrong.
For me, the longer I procrastinate something, the easier it becomes to put it even further off. Seriously, just look at every time I have to call the handyman to take care of a house problem. I put it off once, and before I know it, weeks or even months have gone by, and those damn garage door openers are still broken.
They say that perfection is the enemy of done, but the same can be said for procrastination. So just sitting down and doing the damn task before you have a chance to put it off is probably going to be your smartest move. On top of that, writing first thing in the day symbolizes that you have made it a high priority in your life, which is a great way to get in you in right mindset for taking writing seriously as a career
The power of daily habits
I’m a big fan of daily habits. And I’m not talking about the spa-like morning/evening routines that beauty vloggers tend to post on youtube, but the idea of if you do something every single day, that it gets easier in the long run. In fact, I’m such an uber-fan that I have daily routines coming out of my ears during the work week, including in the morning, my lunch break, after work, and in the evening. All of these daily habits help me get my shit together, exercise, keep my house from descending into chaos, and of course, get that writing done.
Getting into a routine can be tricky, but once you’ve done it for long enough (the number I seen thrown around is twenty-one days) it simply becomes a habit, and doesn’t require as much thought. I’m not saying that there are never any days that I don’t feel like writing, but nine times out of ten, it’s just something I get up and do in the morning.
Of course, I am also an extreme creature of habit, so creating routines might take a little more effort for you. So if the idea of getting up a full hour (or more) earlier and using that time to write sounds daunting, make it twenty minutes, or a half hour, and work your way up.
It leaves you with the most time to work with
During the last NaNoWriMo, I found myself dealing with a plot that required a very specific type of structure. To make sure every scene fit in the right place, I’d outline a chapter or two in advance (and it worked! for the most part). Unfortunately, I soon realized that if I wanted to get in my daily word counts, I just didn’t have time for both writing and outlining in the hour I had available every morning. Fortunately, because I got my writing out of the way first thing in the morning, I had the rest of the day to work with when it came to outlining. Had I done my writing at night, it would just mean staying up even later, exhausting myself during an already intense month (not only was I writing a novel, but I started a new job!). Oftentimes being a writer is more than just writing, and if you want to have time to do all that extra stuff (blogging! social media!), it’s good to have a lot of time to work with.
This one may sound strange, but I tend to be a happier person once I’ve gotten my writing done. Obviously, it takes a good day of writing to get me to that point, but even after a bad day, at least I feel as if I’ve accomplished something. And if that makes me a more pleasant person, than I guess that means that writing every morning isn’t just good for me, but for the people who spend time around me too.
So those are my reasons why I make it a point to write every morning. And sure, I know that this isn’t possible for everyone, but if the only thing holding you back if the fact that you don’t feel like getting up earlier, I would still recommend giving it a try for three weeks to a month. See how you feel at the end of it. If anything, you’ll have gotten a whole bunch of words down, and when is that a bad thing?
This post is part of the new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts.