Well, usually that subject line is the prelude to a scolding…but really, I just wanted to talk about the discipline of writing everyday. Please, take a seat…
I never thought it would be possible to fit writing into my daily schedule. I work full-time, I’m finishing my M.F.A. and currently doing an intense research internship. How in the world am I supposed to fit more time into my day…?
Well, I’d heard through the writing community to get up an hour or half an hour earlier than normal. Five? Five-thirty? Really, I’m an early bird, but man, that’s early. Thoughout my M.A., I would always make my writing time 1-3 times a week in three-hour chunks. But it was always hard to get into writing or stay excited about it that way. Worse, I’d try to write at the end of a long day and be a lot less motivated.
For about two months now, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 or 5:45. I set two alarms on my phone. The second one is called “Crossing Tone.” Subliminally, this means cross over into the writing life and get out of bed! Most of the time, I’m up before then now that my body has adjusted. (Occasionally, the cats will sense it. Cinnamon seems to know when it is exactly 5:15 everyday.) I write like this 5-6 times a week now. It feels like all the great advice I recieved during my M.A. in Creative Writing at Wilkes University suddenly sank in and infiltrated every part of my life. You hear it, you ponder it, you make excuses NOT to do it…but when you commit to “meeting the page” everyday, that’s when the writing happens.
Now, if I try to sleep in, my subconscious, yells like an annoying neighbor, “GET UP AND WRITE.” The guilt sets in. A day without writing just feels bad. If you’re really a writer, then daily writing should be as essential to you as breakfast, your morning cup of coffee or tea, or brushing your teeth, etc.
After you make it a priority, you’ll find that you look forward to it. You also make arrangements to keep your new schedule. For example, yeah, even in the summer when the sun is out, I’d be in bed at 8:30-9 p.m. I am one of those people who cannot live without sleep and I realize its importance to my health, mood and sanity.
Norman Mailer once said (and I might be paraphrasing a bit), “When you say you’re going to write, your brain already starts preparing. You have to show up at the page when you say you’re going to write.”
I find this to be true. I feel guilty if I don’t keep my writing promise. Also, I find that most of the time, even stumbling to the laptop at 5:47, that the content meets me there. I actually enjoy my cup of coffee instead of huffing it down and running out the door like I used to. When I realize it’s 6:15 and I have another 30 minutes of writing, I get excited.
When I leave the page, I try to make sure that I leave the page with tons of notes for next time. I’m sure that my brain keeps processing these like background music for a film until the next time I meet the page.
Is there a writing routine you recommend to writers? How much time is wasted in your day that could be devoted to writing?
Also, if you are local to Wilkes-Barre, I will be hosting a workshop on this subject next Tuesday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m. (Call 570-821-1959 to sign up.)
Thanks for tuning in!
Be well and write on,