The first secret, I’m bursting to tell. It can’t even wait to get to my list. If you want to get up early and write, don’t do it every day. Do it once a week and make it a special treat. Alone time for yourself. So many people never get up early, because they think they always have to do it.
I suggest you just do it once. Make it feel exciting like you’re getting up to catch a flight for an exotic adventure. Because you are.
I’ll share more on that later. First I want to tell you how I discovered these secrets hidden in plain sight.
I used to be a high-school teacher, for a pretty intensive International Baccalaureate program. I used to set my alarm two, even three hours before work in order to finish grading papers during exam week. It actually felt kinda good. Then a thought crossed my mind that changed my destiny.
Why am I willing to get up early for my job, but don’t ever do it for my own writing?
We’re all willing to jump out of bed for a crying baby, or a work deadline, but when we think about our writing dreams, it’s just not that urgent. No need to set the alarm. So the days pass, our kids are fine, our jobs are stable, but our dreams are exactly where we left them: stuck in our imagination.
This is what occurred to me when I was wearing myself out for those student papers: I realized how much happier I would be if once in a while, I grabbed a coffee during the wee hours of the morning, and watched the sun come up with my own notebook in hand. So I started scheduling early mornings once or twice a week, for myself.
Soon, early mornings became habitual part of my creative writing process and before I knew it, I was finishing a book and starting this blog.
It won’t take long before the act of pushing yourself to get up in the morning will no longer be painful. Instead it will fill you with pride. Here are a few tips that will help get you addicted to early morning writing.
1. Just Once a Week
Like I said, you don’t have to change your whole life, and start getting up at 4 AM every day. Choose one day this week and make it a magical, just for you.
2. Reward Yourself
An obnoxious beeping noise isn’t going to inspire you to get out of bed. However a gourmet cup of coffee, timed to stream into the cup just as you walk into the kitchen, that’s more like it. Choose something simple that will make you want to wake up.
3. Have a Compelling Vision
If you don’t have a clear compelling reason to get out of bed, you’ll definitely have a clear compelling reason to stay in bed when the sun starts to rise. Before you go to bed write out a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, so you can remind yourself why you’re doing this even when the covers feel so good. Picture your life when you meet that goal, and don’t forget to include why you’re doing it.
4. Go to Bed Early
The point here is not to exhaust you beyond recognition. When I started getting up early, I would put myself to bed with my son, usually before 9 PM. I thought of it as “leveraging my day” because I was so much more productive in the morning than in the evening.
5. Make it a ritual
Once you’ve got the hang of these tips, make it a ritual. Bring in pleasure in gratitude, add in a scented candle, or an affirmation, and soon it will become a regular part of your week! We become our habits. Steady repetitive actions become the building blocks of our dream life.
When you take up the practice of early morning writing, know that you’re in good company. Great writers who are early risers include Tony Morrison, Haruki Murakami and Barbara Kingslover. They are 4 AMers like me, but don’t feel that you have to take it to that extreme. Tony Morrison started rising early as a single mom with a full time job as an editor. That’s how she wrote her first novel. I always keep her in mind when I’m hitting the keyboard first thing in the morning.
Now, I challenge you to go for it! Even if you don't consider yourself a morning person. If you like, you can spread this early morning challenge with other writers you know. Use the share button below, and grow together as a community.