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Morning Ritual Goal: Posting less online but writing more

Morning self-portrait

After my last get-together with my writing pal, Mahtab Narsimhan, I've adopted a new daily work schedule. I generally wake at about 6-6:30 a.m. and head down to my office to do e-mail, then surf for publishing news for my Market Watch column while also updating @inkyelbows and other feeds on Twitter.

From now on, I'm going to do some writing first thing ... BEFORE GOING ONLINE. I've been trying it for a few days now and I'm very happy with the results. By 8 a.m., I've been writing for 1.5-2 hours, and then I can start working on my publishing news column. I'll do more writing later, but it's a good way to start the day plus I'm more productive.

It'll take a little while before it becomes habit, though -- when I wake up, I am SO used to going online right away. It's how I wake up, instead of the morning cup of coffee that other people have.

What about the rest of you? What's your morning ritual?

Reader Comments (25)

This sounds a lot like what I've been trying to do (though in my case, not quite so early. ;) ) It can help to start writing before the inner editor wakes up, for one thing.

My problem with checking email and newsfeeds first thing is the morning is that it tends to start off the vicious checking and re-checking cycle that goes on throughout the day. I've started using Freedom (Mac software) to cut off my internet access during that first hour or two of the day. I'm learning to take notes on things I need to check up on during writing, instead of immediately going to Wikipedia (and down the rabbit hole).

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

This is quite similar to how I used to do NaNoWriMo: I would write for at least an hour before breakfast, even, having (and this was the most inportant thing) turned off the wireless card the night before. Kid care and an inability to do plot thinking while waking up kind of torpedoed it not long after, though.

I'm more a lunchtime writer now, but that probably needs to change since I am getting little enough done that current approaches obviously aren't working. Maybe I need to try the morning approach again, as long as I have an outline for the day's writing.

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDunx

Love that pic! That's me! The slippers, the clothes, the hair, the mug (but it's tea)... I'm sorting out all this when-to-write stuff. I get worn out from my mornings with kiddos, but working on not staying up so late.

Okay. No online until I write. And if you're a Mac user, downloading "Freedom" can help...

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDeb Lund

During Script Frenzy, I decided to write first thing one morning and found it was easier to write and made for a much better beginning to the day. I really liked the how it changed the dynamic of my day. So, like you, I'm trying to make it a habit.

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShireen

I've been trying to figure out a way to manage the new influence of Twitter in my life, as well as blogging and Facebooking, etc. against my actual novel-writing and other professional work. This sounds like a great idea, and I just might try it out. Thank you!

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna St. Hilaire

My routine is one of hurry up and write-hurry up and sleep. When I get off work between 4am to 5am I try to get in at least thirty mins. in before laying down for short nap (bout thirty mins worth). After I get my son ready for school and see him on the bus I get in another two hours in before going to sleep. I wake up and write again for about thirty mins before son gets home from school. From there it's ten mins writing here and 15mins there but I try my best to get the two hour base line in.

The Write or Die has helped a lot in aiding me in making the best of the time I have.

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterK.D.Storm

I find that first thing in the morning is my best time, too. Even if it's just for a short period of time, writing before the working day starts gets the project churning in the back of my brain. For the rest of my day, my writing switch is "on" and I'm ready to go whenever I can carve out more writing time.

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Wright

I think that is a great suggestion...my morning ritual is check email, then I will work on research for my blog and/or my clients...I never have defined a time to write and I want to write more. My issue is it does not start til 9a and often feel like I have lost some time. I am an night owl so I am up until 2a...I think I am going to try writing first thing since that is more of my business time and my quiet time as well. Thanks for your post!

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Church

My morning ritual is checking email on my iPhone but I never respond from my phone so it's pretty quick. Then I wash my face, lotion, do my hair and my daughter's and we go downstairs. Only then do I get on the computer. I don't start writing until much later though (usually right around dinner time).

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz H Allen

My morning ritual is getting up and going to my full time job. LOL

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCelise

I get up at 6am, make tea for me and husband (which gets set to the side with lids on the teacups to keep it hot), sandwiches to take to work and breakfast, before spending 10-15 minutes websurfing as I munch. At 6.30 I take the tea (now just the right temp for drinking) and some milk for my daughter upstairs, get her out of bed and bring her into our bed for a morning story. Son joins us at 6.40 and snuggles through the story, then I get them into their school uniforms, get myself dressed for work and run out the door at 7am to go catch my 7.17 train. It's all tightly scripted, I tell you.

Possibly it's just as well I don't aspire to write also!!

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLissa

Ugh. Maybe after I see the doctor it might work. Right now it's fall out of bed. Stagger into kitchen to take pills. Wait 1-2 hours for pills to kick in and pain to subside. Go back to bed.

Evening is the best time, by then I can be drugged up enough that I can think. Kind of.

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWayne

I struggle with my love of the social Net and email. I used to write first thing in the morning, but now I simply can't help checking my email first. I allow myself that with my morning decaf, but once I open my notebook, note where I am in the MS and where I have to get that day, it's like a pistol shot: I'm off!

I'm going to look into Freedom: http://macfreedom.com/

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Gulland

My morning routine (if I got an adequate amount of sleep that is) is to write my morning pages sitting in bed first thing in the morning (and I mean first thing, I only go to the bathroom after that). That helps me to get my real writing done a bit later in the day.

After that I get dressed, make breakfast, get son ready for school, eat breakfast, and then I have about 30 minutes to get my writing done before my husband comes down to breakfast. If I don't have written by then it gets much harder, and the next time slot I have is in the evening.

It's way better to get it done in the morning.

And the internet is my biggest time suck right now too. Turn on the computer, poof an hour is gone. We disconnect the router between 11 pm and 8 am. I just installed a timer...

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusanne

I simply cannot get up early enough to do anything other than shower, dress and head off to work. Even on weekends, my brain does not function in the morning.

I'm an evening writer. I find I feel less stressed because my day is over and I can simply focus on my story.

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

I have found that sitting down to write, longhand, in my journal (three pages, minimum; thank you, Julia Cameron) makes my whole day go better.

Even if I don't get much more writing done the rest of the day, all kinds of things go better: I get onto my to do list, I eat better.

All of this happens, of course, after I have kicked all the men out of my house, closed the door and done my little happy dance...

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

When I wake up in the morning, I sit down on the computer. I wrestle with the urge to check all interesting blogs and websites in existence and sneak peeks at my email while trying to force my fingers to produce something actually readable. After a few hours of that and nothing productive going on, I give up and kind of do some work. Then I'm back and try with every fiber of my being to type a little bit. Finally, I cave and do more Internet-combing.

You had to ask, didn't you.

PS: I'm thinking about asking someone to unplug my Internet and hide the cords so that I can do something for once. Someday, they better invent something for writers that is just for typing. Perhaps they have. (?)

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra

What a timely read! I am on a strict write as if your life depended on it camp out in the Himalaya and have been dealing with a crappy internet connection which has been driving to me sit ups! Just this morning I thought that it was a terrible waste to turn the fresh morning air blue with my attempts to open even just one lousy email for gods sakes! So yeah, I am going back to morning pages and the sweet sound of a pen scratching on paper!

That is how I usually 'wake up', too! I surf for a good 15 - 20 minutes, reading blogs, catching up on facebook and twitter. Okay, that's a major lie right there....more like half an hour minimum. Then, I write.

I've also considered doing things differently - staying offline until I get a good couple of hours of writing done. I've done it a few times, but not enough to make it a habit. Might try doing so next week.

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine M

I stumbled upon the 'write first' pattern a week or so ago and recognized its value. Then my PC broke and I've been converting to Mac for a week. Yay!

I like what Heather said about the "switch." Just yesterday I observed that my real writing started when I experienced a shift in consciousness. It felt like a found the gateway to a different place. Before that trying to write was like trying to walk through a brick wall.

I also like everything Grace said about the inner editor, the constant re-checking cycle and the side notes for later.

So glad to have found this site!

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