For the past week or so, I’ve woken up at 7 a.m. to the opening chords of Hamilton (no surprise there, if you’ve read some of my other blog posts recently). My new morning routine goes something like this: dance along to Hamilton before turning off the alarm and turning on my laptop to write. I gather my binders and notebooks and set a goal for the morning—edit something, write something, problem solve a solution to a plot hole in the novel I’m working on. Then, for the next 30 minutes, I put on my “Writing” playlist and set off towards accomplishing whatever goals I wrote down.
This is a relatively new routine for me, and, despite not being a zealous morning person, I have to say that I’m loving it so far. I saw a quote yesterday that read, “Set a goal that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning” and I realized that my writing goals make me want to do just that. No matter how tired I am, I’m always excited to get up, walk over to my desk and crack open my writing notebook.
As I’ve written before, this summer I am working full-time hours in a communications role. By carving out this half hour in the morning to write, I arrive at work at 9 a.m. already feeling like I’ve accomplished something for the day. Before I set this routine, I was trying to find time to write at night—and while I wrote blog posts after work, I never ended up working on writing fiction. Now, I am certain that I am making more progress than I otherwise would have been had I continued writing solely at night. I find it amazing that I can make significant progress towards my goals just by waking up 30 minutes earlier.
It can be tempting to only write when motivation strikes, but most creative people know that motivation is fleeting. What is not fleeting, however, is routine. I am the type of person who falls into a routine easily. To be honest, I did doubt my ability to wake up half an hour before I usually do; but I motivated myself by writing “a.m. editing” in my planner every day. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my ability to use this morning time productively. One day last week I woke up at 7 a.m., only to realize that, for some reason, my laptop wouldn’t open Microsoft Word. I couldn’t work on the project I wanted to edit, but I didn’t go back to sleep. Instead, I used the time to read—something else I don’t make enough time for in my life.
Although this morning writing routine is new to me, making time to write is not. In the winter, I made it my goal to write 1,000 words every day. I didn’t set aside a specific time because my school schedule was different every day. I still ended up fulfilling my goal, though—I wrote 1,000 words every day, without fail, until I reached my goal of 80,000 words. Even on days when I was exhausted from school, I still managed to sit down and write. Once I got started, I couldn’t break the routine; and the daily sessions of writing fiction were a welcome break from my schoolwork.
Knowing who you are goes a long way in finding ways to motivate yourself to write. I know, for example, that I am motivated by visually seeing my progress; so I like to track my progress through charts where I can write down what I accomplish every day. Making charts is a small thing, but I honestly think that the charts where I wrote down my word count every day were one of the main reasons why I was able to continue writing 1,000 words every day back in the winter. I hope that the goal-setting charts I am using now will make my current morning writing sessions successful, too.
I had a comment recently asking about what my writing schedule is, and I guess this is it. As of last week, I write and edit for half an hour in the morning and I also spend extra time at night writing blog posts. It’s a schedule that is still evolving, but one that is based on what I know works for me. In the end, it’s a schedule that allows me to wake up in the morning and spend time doing what I love while making progress towards my goals. What could be better than that?