New Year, New Routine, New Reads

It’s 6:00… AM. My phone alarm went off at 5:30 (The alarm tone is currently set as a clip from the end of “The White Rider” off the Two Towers score. Epic). I don’t know about you, but 5:30 is not my favorite time to wake up. Having five small children in the house keeps me from ever sleeping it, but 5:30 still feels like yesterday. So why am I up before roosters and paper boys? Because I’m sick of not writing.

Simple Life_hrI finished Operation Turn The Page(s) with time to spare, which allowed me the freedom to dive in to the books I’m reading now: Simple Life by Thom & Art Rainer and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Simple Life opens with a challenging yet encouraging chapter on priorities which got me reflecting on how I spend my time. Then, in the introduction to Bird by Bird, Lamott references her father’s uncompromising routine, “Every morning, no matter how late he had been up, my father rose at 5:30, went to his study, wrote for a couple of hours, made us all breakfast, read the paper with my mother, and then went back to work for the rest of the morning.” I have to be at my non-writing office at 8:45 most mornings, when I get home it’s prime daddy time, and after the kids go down at 8:00ish, there are chores to do and often my wife and I will watch a Redbox. Mr. Lamott’s schedule sounded pretty appealing to me, so I’m giving it a shot. The White Rider beckons at 5:30, I shower and all that stuff, aim to be writing by 6:00, wrapped at 7:30, and giving my family time until I leave for work. So far it has been a good fit. I’ve knocked out another chapter’s first draft on my current project, eliminated the oppressive feeling of getting further behind, and that allows me to focus on my family when it’s time to focus on my family. Also epic.

When I was playing college football, part of our off-season conditioning included a horrible activity called “Mat Drills.” They were the product of a legendary football coach who also happened to be a military buff, which is why, I think, they were so often compared to Boot Camp (If you’re curious, here’s a video of the University of Georgia football team doing Mat Drills; their coach was my coach at FSU). Anyway, they happened at 5:50 AM in February. Well, a new coach’s reign began a few years ago and he moved these drills to the mid-afternoon, and it’s his reasoning that’s applicable here. He said it was better for your body to go through the grind at roughly the same time it would have to compete at a high level, something to do with muscle memory and psychology. It makes sense, I guess. On page six of Bird by Bird, Lamott writes, “You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.” Hmmmm, maybe they are on to something. I’ll let you know if I start feeling particularly creative around 6:00 every day.

Monday through Friday I work on my big writing projects, like Grateful or my current book. Saturday morning is reserved for updating the blogs. (Just to show how new I am to this schedule, I sat down for my Saturday morning blogging and when I finished I realized it was Friday.) And Sunday, to honor the Sabbath, I write devotionally to and about God. I’ve not done that yet, so I don’t know what it will look like exactly, but I’m excited about the concept.

Do you have a routine? Are you like me, juggling work and family and still trying to find time to write and read? Can you offer an encouragement?

Keep Discovering Writing!

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8 comments

  1. Do I have a routine? I don’t want to go ahead and dominate the comments section, but I sure do have a routine.
    Generally speaking, though, when I write, I like to at least get my thoughts out when I have them. That does not always mean posting something or adding to a project immediately, just get them out of my head and either on paper or into a word processor. If I need to write during “family time,” I try to squeeze it in during bath time (the kiddo’s, not mine) or after bedtime.
    I do try to keep family time at a premium, though.

    1. Oh, I’m with you in the note jotting department. I have note pads by my bed, on my desk, in my backpack, etc. to capture thoughts as I have them. Lamott uses index cards and also has oodles of them scattered about. Sometimes though, I feel a motivation when an idea is simmering to thoughtfully write it out, and if I do a quick scribble the motivation disappears and I never get back to writing it. One of these days I suppose. By the way, thanks for not skipping your bath time.

  2. No, I don’t have a writing routine, but I need one so I can get these co-op guides published. You’ve inspired me to set a time for writing. Now to figure out the “when” and then begin! Thanks!

    1. The “when” is always the hard part, but setting and committing to your “when” is the surest way to get your “win” – finishing the co-op guides 🙂

  3. ugh. I think I’m feeling slightly convicted. But really, to think clearly at 6:00am!? Maybe that would help with just writng and not over-analyzing 😉 I’m going to have to think about this.

    1. The best thing about the pre-dawn routine is having the quiet house, and I’ve found I can think pretty clearly once I’ve showered, etc. Just figure out what you need to get the brain waves rolling. The author I referenced, Anne Lamott, regularly mentions writing at 9:00am, but I know Charles Martin does a lot of his starting at 4:00am. To each his own, but the point is a regular time you set aside for the work. You can do it!

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