5 A.M. — 25 Pushups — 1,500 Words
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to “be a writer.”
It probably started with this award.
Look at that thing. It’s even laminated. You pretty much know you’re destined for greatness when you win an Excellence in Writing Award in first grade at the age of 6. Although looking back I realize that my parents had just moved me to a new school. My teachers probably just felt sorry for me.
But the die was cast.
Writing was in my blood. There was no sense denying it. After all, I had the award to prove it was my calling.
Fast forward thirty-some-odd years and hear I am, a professional writer. It still seems weird to say.
If you’ve written at all you know that you constantly wonder if you’re a real writer. My writing mentor, Charlie Wetzel, has written over one hundred books and he confirmed it. He said, “you write content on demand and you get paid for it. Trust me, you’re a real writer.”
Armed with my wife’s ever-present belief in me and Charlie’s words, I guess that settles it.
But I’ve always wanted to write a book and have my name on the cover. I just recently got a taste of what that would be like helping a gentleman named Wilbur Goforth write his story. It’s a short book that you can read here.
Still, like a lot of writers, I believe I have a book in me. I’ve blogged, I’ve written devotions for my church, I’ve written coaching materials, teaching materials, roundtables, advertising copy and social media and been paid to do so.
But I want to write my book.
5 A.M. — My Time of Reckoning
I’m a husband and a father. I have serious time constraints so I’ve begun to realize that if I’m ever going to get this book written I’m going to have to drag myself out of bed at 5 A.M. No one else is up and I’ll be forced to concentrate on the task at hand — writing my book.
The problem is that I’m tired at 5 A.M. Nearly seventeen years ago I got a clock radio as a wedding gift. It’s still on my nightstand. The readout is digital, but you have to spin the little dials on the side to tune into a station and set the volume. You can hit snooze but it’s a pain. You can even set it for a later time but that’s really a pain.
But oh the iPhone. That device that makes everything better and worse all at the same time. Thanks to Steve Jobs, now I can set multiple alarms. I can set a 5:00 A.M. alarm for when I should get up. A 5:30 alarm for when I’d still feel relatively productive if I got up. A 6:00 o’clock alarm as a last ditch effort to get something done and a 6:30 alarm when I’m feeling really tired.
Guess what? Everyone feels really tired at 5:00 A.M. That’s because it’s dark outside and looks like night.
But then I thought about my good buddy Jocko. He gets up at 4:30 A.M. every day. He takes a picture and posts it to social media.
So I did it. Four days ago I started dragging myself out of bed. The first day I even took a picture of my watch and tweeted it out.
Jocko even liked my tweet. See.
You may have something that you want to accomplish but have put off. It’s not about the time you start it’s about the starting. You may be a morning person or a night person. I don’t care. Just get started. Here’s how I did it.
Just Put Your Feet On The Floor
I’m in a men’s discipleship group and when we met a few weeks ago we were talking about goals. My friend Reggie gave me some sage advice. He said just start by putting your feet on the floor.
When the alarm goes off it’s tempting to roll over and keep sleeping. It’s easy to lie there and think about getting up. It’s harder to go to sleep when you swing your legs out of the bed and actually put your feet on the floor.
Four days ago the alarm went off at 5:00 A.M. and I swung my legs out from under the covers and my feet hit the floor. Reggie was right. I was a success! I had taken the first step toward writing a book with my name on it. All because I made the effort put my feet on the floor.
Things were looking up.
Drop And Give Me 20
Have you ever done a burpee?
If not, you should try it someday. I believe it was invented by the Soviets in the Gulag to keep prisoners in line. Either that or as a full body exercise to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
Basically you start standing up, drop into a pushup position, do a pushup, hop your feet up to your hands, stand up from a squatting position and if your feeling extra froggy you jump up in the air. Then you repeat.
It’s a great way to wake up but it also causes a tremendous racket and wakes the whole house.
So after I put my feet on the floor and heeded nature’s call I decided to do the next best thing — pushups.
Strangely enough, it worked. I went into my closet and promptly knocked out 25 pushups. I think I could have done more.
Pecs like Arnold Schwarzenegger and a book credit to my name? Sign me up.
With my heart pumping nicely, I prepared to enter into the distraction free zone.
Enter The Distraction Free Zone
I’m not sure if ADD had been invented yet when I won that writing award, but I’m pretty sure I have it now. I can get distracted with very little effort.
After my pushups I wanted to get right to work. So I got my book outline out and set it to the side of my laptop on my desk. I opened my writing app and switched it to distraction free mode. There was simply a blank page with nothing else on the screen. For some people this is intimidating, but for me it was perfect.
I already had an idea of what I wanted to write, so I lined up my hands on the keyboard, took a sip of caffeine and started banging away.
Don’t Stop ‘Til You’ve Had Enough
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” –Louis L’Amour
If I could give you one piece of advice as a writer it’s this: just start writing.
I’ve sat staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to hit me like a lightning bolt. Very rarely does it happen that way. What’s more common is a string of rambling, incoherent sentences that make no sense.
But those sentences prime the pump.
You’ll find that once you get started you begin thinking more clearly and a pattern emerges. You start creating better sentences and they form paragraphs. In distraction free mode you can’t see how many words you’ve written or what page you are on. You just keep typing away until you feel like you’ve made your point for that chapter or section.
For the last four days I’ve written around 1,500 words before anyone in my house gets moving. Some days it was easy. This morning was a struggle.
But I’ve added 6,000 new words to my book in 96 hours.
I’ll take it.
I know some of those words won’t survive the editors red pen and that’s ok. All first drafts are…well; you’ve probably read the quote.
But what I do know is that I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.
I’ve got momentum and I want to keep it up.
I have a teacher friend who loves this quote:
“The best time to plant a tree was one hundred years ago. The second best time is today.”
What is it that you need to start doing that you’ve put off? The time is going to pass one way or another. You might as well get started.
Let’s start now.
Let me know how I can help.