I don’t want to be writing this today. I’m tired. I’m at an out-of-town event with friends. I don’t feel like taking the time, but I made a commitment and I know that I like the person I am when I keep my commitment to write every day.
To overcome this struggle I’m employing my #1 trick to make daily writing easier:
My early wake/daily write routine.
Rising early and writing first thing — often before anyone else is awake — has been the single most successful way to for me to sustain a daily writing habit.
In the morning my mind is fresh and undistracted. The world is quiet.
The simple act of making writing the first item that I cross off my to-do list ensures that I get it done. I’ve found that trying to schedule writing later in the day is far less effective. As the day drags on it becomes harder and harder to pull away from mundane distractions. Even when I do make myself sit down to write it’s hard to say engaged in the task at hand when I’m thinking about everything else I could be doing. It’s simply easier to focus first thing in the morning.
I never considered myself a morning person.
Waking early doesn’t come naturally for me. For years I stayed up late working on projects after younger family members went to bed. My mom would tell me of this magical time called dawn when all was peace and quiet, but I rarely dragged myself out of bed to enjoy it with her.
So what changed my mind about mornings? Giving them a chance. At some point I simply chose to see if I might be more productive in the mornings than at nighttime and when I did I had to admit that mornings were the clear winner. I can’t argue with the results.
Two things I do to make early wake/daily write work.
To set myself up for success the night before:
- I decide what my morning writing topic will be.
- I go to bed at a reasonable hour.
When I’m really on top of things I have a whole editorial calendar full of writing topics assigned to certain days. In that case all I need to do is look at the schedule in order to know what to write. Doing so the night before allows my subconscious to organize my thoughts on the topic while I sleep. When I wake I’m ready to start writing.
Going to bed at a reasonable hour is often the hardest part of the early wake/daily write routine, but it is also vital to success.
At my current stage of life I’m a mother of a six-month-old. It’s tempting to stay up after her bedtime to try to finally tackle my to-do list, but I have to admit that by evening I’m too exhausted to get any good work done. It’s much more efficient to go to bed early and rise before the child wakes.
Establishing this routine makes it so much easier to accomplish my big goal of writing (and publishing) every day because I’ve set it up in advance. When it comes time to get out of bed I don’t let myself have a choice. I’ve already made the choice to get up early and write on a certain topic so I don’t have to struggle with the decision in a moment of tired, cozy weakness. I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.