I’m told that you don’t stop growing until you’re twenty-five. That at twenty-five, you’ve apparently––finally––reached physical and emotional maturity. Which… looking back at my life… yeah, that tracks.
But when I first heard that fact, at say around age twenty, I misunderstood it (as, fittingly, I misunderstood so much at age twenty). I thought it meant that I needed to have my life figured out by twenty-five. That I must resolve all of my issues and faults by this deadline or they’d become set in stone and, not being able to change a single lick more, I’d be doomed to keep said faults forevermore.
Thank f*ck things were not quite so dire. (Twenty-year-old me was a little dramatic, can you tell?)
Little did I know that at thirty-three-and-two-thirds, I’d be able to adopt a new writing habit that would change my creative life entirely.
This new habit is ridiculously simple. So simple, in fact, that I actually came up with a very similar one myself years ago. I’m pretty sure I wrote a blog post about it then, too. I no doubt tagged it as ‘Good Advice.’ And then, of course, I didn’t take the advice until this past week, when I came across it again on a podcast.
Here it is: when you wake up, do not check your email. Do not go on your phone. Avoid social media entirely until you have sat down and got some words. (I aim for a minimum of about 200, in line with a different piece of advice I came across recently.)
As I’ve said, it’s simple. And yet I’ve found it weirdly hard, at least to start.
So often, we use our devices on autopilot and it’s a tough thing to break. To that end, I will actually return to the advice I mentioned above––the piece that I doled out years ago: disconnect your devices from WiFi before you go to bed. Taking this step really sets you up to start writing in the mornings distraction-free.
I may be prone to exaggeration, but I’m really not kidding about it having revolutionised things for me. I am writing way more than usual. And not just the minimum of 200 words a day. That is a starting point, but I find that if you set out to get that, the words start flowing and suddenly you find yourself with a lot more.
Now, if you know me, you know I’m not an early bird. That hasn’t changed. I still very much consider myself a night owl and it still takes me what feels like seven hours to wake up, but somehow, even with my brain not feeling fully switched on, apparently words can still happen. And I don’t hate the words when I read them back later!
My old routine, if you could call it that, looked like this: open eyes, check phone, feed dog, feed husband, watch YouTube videos and drink tea until I feel awake, do housework, remember to actually feed myself, nap, get any and all admin work done, take a break with more YouTube to help clear my head. And then, if I didn’t fall asleep in the middle of a video, I would write.
It’s no surprise that a lot of days, I would indeed fall asleep at my screen and zero words would happen.
I love writing at night. It’s what I’d do in an ideal world. But you know what? We don’t live in an ideal world. I live in a world where there are always a ton of things to keep me busy, and one where I’m riddled with chronic pain and fatigue.
By the time I’ve finished housework in a day and finally managed to feed myself, the brain fog has descended and I don’t have the mental energy to write until I rest a bit with those YouTube videos.
This new method circumnavigated all that. I get my first batch of words in early. Write more if I end up having a nap and find myself restarting my day in the middle. And then, having done all the rest of my daily tasks, I can still sometimes do my nighttime writing session on top.
Try it, it’s magical!
Note: I am not saying this will work for everyone. It might not even work for me forever, but for right now, I am one happy writer and I wanted to share, because god, it’s been too long since that’s been true!