Unwilling Early Bird

I have never been a morning person. The sad fact is that it takes my brain a while to start ticking in the morning. Or no — that’s not right. My brain is typically ticking away just fine as soon as I open my eyes. It takes my motor skills a while to catch up. Verbal ability? Hand-eye coordination? They lag a little behind. Ask my poor husband. It took him several years to translate Laura Morning Speech into English.

However, since my brain is pretty functional in the morning, there is one task I can do: write. And this brings me to my sad, sad realization: getting up early is very helpful in Getting Shit Done. With the clock ticking every faster towards the end of the year, I decided I really had to up my game in order to get my first draft done in time. This probably won’t come as a shocker to any of you, but surprise! There are only so many hours in the day. I go to work for 8 of them. I need about 8 for sleep. I need to eat somewhere in there. Interact with other humans. And you know, do laundry and the other things required of a functioning adult.

So what’s a writer to do? The only solution: make more time. Last week I started getting up at 5:30, every weekday, with the purpose of writing.

UGH.

Really — it shouldn’t be that hard. In the summer I routinely got up at 4:55 to go running. BUT. I have a running partner. I am meeting someone at a specific spot at a specific time, and if I fail to show up I am an Asshole. But with writing, it’s just me and my desk. It is so easy to just turn that alarm off and say, “Well, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like the cats are going to yell at me if I’m not at the desk at 5:30.”

Well, it does matter. It really matters. This is my work, it’s what I’ve chosen, it’s what’s important to me. And unfortunately, I do my best work in the mornings. After my initial wake-up period, my head is clear; there are no distractions. There are no errands to run, nobody to talk to, no other pressing work that has to be done. I can just chug along and rack up that word count.

The crappy thing about this schedule? I’m exhausted. By 9pm, I’m falling asleep. I don’t want to be the person who can’t stay up past 9. I don’t want to be the person who says, “Hey guys, I’d love to go to that party, but…” But what am I going to do? Until I can train myself to get by on less sleep, them’s the cards, I guess. I just finished reading  Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and this quote rang true:

I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.

 

This, right now, is my focus.

I often dream of being able to sleep in until 8, get up, have a run, have my coffee. Then sit and write. But for better or worse, that’s not the life I lead. It’s probably never the life I’ll lead — and that’s ok. It just means I need to be diligent about my time. Which, let’s be honest, is true for all of us.

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3 thoughts on “Unwilling Early Bird

  1. I had to do that to write my Master’s thesis. It was brutal! Do you have a coffee machine you can set to make coffee at a certain time? I always wished I had one of those. My best advice is to put whatever clothes you’re wearing when you get up RIGHT by the bed. Our room is a bit cold in the morning before we turn on the heat and without something to wear literally within arm’s reach, there was no prayer of me getting out of bed into the cold.

    1. For better or worse, we only have a French press… but fortunately, I’ve worked that whole process into my morning routine (put water on to boil, use bathroom, take dog out, get coffee grinding, yadda yadda).

      And I totally agree — clothing by the bed is essential! If I somehow forget, and my pajamas aren’t RIGHT BY the bed… I have a minor freakout ;) Can’t handle the cold!

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