Most of what I remember from science class involves methods to avoid dissecting a fetal pig and that toothpick-egg experiment from physics.
But today, I’ve discovered that a recent writing experiment that I undertook doesn’t work for me. The hypothesis that writing at the end of the day when I’m tired has proven to be faulty. Instead, I’ve discovered this – If I don’t write first thing in the day, I don’t write at all.
Of late, I’ve been trying to squeeze my writing into cracks between things – mostly because “things” pay and, often, writing doesn’t. With a farm to build, (chickens arrive in a couple of weeks) I’d put my focus on finances instead of life. I’ve done this before. It’s always a mistake.
Because I will always be able to do social media management for clients and craft newsletters for customers. I will always reach my deadlines for editing work and answer emails. I’m a rule-follower – so these things I commit to do, I always do.
But when it comes to myself, to art, to the things that seem – even though I know better in some part of myself – to be just for me, I put those aside. I consider those “bonus” when really they are essential, breath to my spirit, joy to my voice.
I buy into our culture’s belief that writing is superfluous and money necessary. Even when I know the opposite is true.
Last week, I sat down next to Steve Heller at breakfast. He was friendly and kind as always, but he seemed tired, weary, and that’s no surprise – he directs the MFA program at Antioch University, has a wife and a young son, and writes himself. I asked if he was finding time to write, and he didn’t even pause: “Oh yes. But I get up at 2am to do it.”
2am. That is commitment to an art.
I see it in artists the world over – including my brother who wakes at 4 to compose music before he goes to work – getting up before most of the earth to get their work done. People write books about the idea, and journalists study it.
Maybe there is something in the early morning that is special, but my guess is that the secret is found in a couple of things – in these hours, fewer people are awake to talk with you or text you or post something interesting on Facebook, AND you have yet to fill your mind with tasks and assignments. It’s just you and the words then.
So here’s my plan, and I’d appreciate a little accountability if you would.
1. I’m going to get up at 5am every morning and write. My 1,000 words in whatever form they need to come that day – blog, magazine article, WIP.
2. By 6:45 am, I will be ready for the rest of the day with emails and social media and phone calls.
My hope – prayer? – is that I will find two things by using this schedule. – that I will feel better, more centered, more focused because I have written first AND that I will stop resenting the other things that I need (and want) to do with my days because I won’t keep quietly blaming them for keeping me from my work.
I’m starting Monday, so I’ll let you know how it goes.
Anyone want to join me?