The Best Laid Plans…

I watched “The Dialogue: Sheldon Turner” and, like most of these inspirational (or soul-crushingly depressing) how-tos on writing, I took it with several grains of salt.  Writing, like most creative endeavors, is not simply a matter of hearing how (and often not why) someone does something in a certain way of copying them.  While that might work, it’s not guaranteed.  You have to figure out what works for you – your style, your habits, your life.

Turner mentioned that he gets up at 4am every day (or more accurately 3:57) and writes for about an hour.  He then works out, gets his day going and goes back to writing.  I’m going to keep working out at night (for now) because I have a sexy training partner – no, it’s not me in the mirror – and I have these animals who get up when I do and need care and maintenance, but I liked the idea of starting my writing day before the rest of the world is even awake. Maybe this is the answer to boost my writing metabolism.

Lately I’ve been lamenting the fact that even when I sit down early and try to focus on just writing, things crop up or I’m just not on.  It may take me anywhere from two to ten hours to really get the juices flowing and get into a rhythm where I can write more than fifteen words without declaring them complete and utter shit.  How do I make more consistent progress?  Maybe Turner had the answers.  He mentioned that he rarely sleeps more than 4-5 hours a night or he’s off, and I average about 4.5-5.5 hours a night on weekdays.

Last night I set two alarms.  One for 6am and a backup for 6:37.  I wasn’t ready to dive right into the 4am wake-up call, and it was just after 1am when I hit the sack.  My early alarm went off.  I hit snooze.  Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum. My backup never went off.

I woke up this morning just north of 8:30am…

Not saying I can’t train myself to make it work, but it’s looking like I’m just a better afternoon-evening-night productivity person.  My next step (MWF when I have “writing” days) is a full electronic pinch.  I will turn off all Internet and other communications during the standard 9-5 workday, leave my phone on silent – not vibrate – and not turn on the TV for any reason.  My only allowed distraction will be music.  The Black Box work environment.  As much as we blame email, twitter and facebook for being the biggest distractions, when writing I will often get hung up on research, particularly for visual reference, when I should just plow through and fill in later.

I’ll continue to try to do the early riser deal, and if the distraction-free thing doesn’t work, I can resort to the Creativity Elixir. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you have any particular hints or hacks to get up and get going earlier, or how to turn on the creative juices, please leave a comment.

2 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans…

  1. I’ve seen some compelling data that says that to wake up earlier, it’s more effective to make the move incrementally rather than all at once. It’s something I’m working on now. I move up my wake-up time 15 minutes each day.

    Two other ideas come up (both inspired by our friend Tim Feriss), starting your day immediately with a load of protein starts up the metabolism and making time for naps during the day to make up the difference in sleep.

    Also, I recently read some data that says that our brains process the information we take in just before bed. It jives with some of my own experiences. But, I’m finding that taking in info is not the same as worrying over it.

    Figure out how to force the muse to overwhelm you first thing in the morning and let me know, yeah?

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