why, hello again, 5:55am.

Posted on Posted in journal, nulla dies sine linea, writing life

At last, I've bowed to the inevitable and taken up writing in the mornings again.

I've always written best(ish) in the mornings — by which I mean I like that I start the day knowing I have words on the manuscript, and I like that the manuscript gets first dibs on my attention. At that time of day it's more sleep-deprived than fresh, but at least it isn't drained by attending to the day's myriad needs into the bargain, which is generally my evening state of mind.

It's fair to say, though, I don't like getting up early. The bed is waaaaaaaaaarm. My eyeballs take twenty minutes to work up any moisture and come to something approximating a working agreement with my contact lenses, so I'm not exaggerating when I say the first hundred or so words are written literally blind. (Lucky I can touch-type.) Writing to a clock, because I have to stop in time to get to the dayjob, means I'm constantly interrupting myself to check the time. (I've set an alarm to keep track of the time for me, but it's a nervous tic. I'm hoping practice will help me relax and trust the alarm sooner or later.)

What I love, nay absolutely ADORE, about writing in the mornings is that I am the only person in the world. Sitting tucked up in the dark, with only myself and my laptop and my imagination, knowing the rest of the world is sleeping and no one, but no one, will disturb me … it's divine beyond words. Of course, I'd prefer that snug dark lonesomeness to be post-midnight, but that doesn't work so well with a dayjob. Pre-dawn is the next best thing.

Despite knowing from experience this was my best option, I fought it. Because it's cold in the mornings: I don't need more chillblains, and that kind of cold only exacerbates the aches in my back, neck, shoulders and wrists. Because it seemed like it would create more problems in my daily routine than it would solve, such as waking the pterosaur1 or making it impossible for me to get enough sleep. Because I wanted to try being more flexible and less routine-driven, like normal people.

But I tried flexible and less routine-driven, and all it gave me was less time than before, and a never-ending slew of last-minute errands which regularly swallowed any chance of writing that day. And I underestimated the pterosaur, who is simultaneously supportive and utterly unrousable in that he manages to lift the doona and help push me upright without actually waking himself. And as for the cold … I have a heater now!

Sometimes, taking time for your writing means admitting you need those routines that you think make you boring. And taking that time, and enforcing that routine, even though you risk some people thinking you're boring. Because the people that count will understand. (Although they will probably still think you're a little bit crazy. But everyone knew that bit already anyway.)

  1. I haven't mentioned the pterosaur overmuch on the blog, out of respect for his privacy, but suffice to say he's named for the noise he makes when he hiccoughs. It's totally the noise a flying dino would make if it had just spotted delicious (utterly deaf) prey. Startling stuff. []

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