Training To Be Creative On Demand

I am not a morning person. Definitely the night owl type, but even when I go to sleep early, I still sleep in. My body wants to sleep. Mornings are a nice concept, but I don’t have to experience them to know they happen. When I started writing, I realized that mornings were a huge part of my day that I was ignoring. Then I found out a terrible truth: I write better in the mornings. Literally, I am 1000% more productive when I sit down and write at 8am than if I begin at 11am. OH NO!!

I’m still in denial, but results are real things that I experienced. A ‘morning routine’ is something I always thought was for people who rush out to work or people who are peppy and smile before 9am. They’re for them, but also for people who want to be productive and form good habits. Which is me. Darn.

At the beginning of 2018, I decided I wanted to write down this book that floated around in my brain for years. My issue was NOT how much time is in a day, but how much time I used. Sleeping in was a luxury I could no longer afford. Writing a book is like a full time job that doesn’t pay you anything until the end, maybe. (Still unpaid for me). Which means I had to find time around my job-job to do my writing job. And that time was mornings.

It’s still difficult for me to wake up in the mornings. But I know that I want to be a writer. I want to write my books, even if they’re never published. And in order for them to be written, I need to write. Obvious, but not easy. So here’s what I do.

I do not have a coffee maker. If I want coffee, I need to get myself out of bed, put on clothes, and walk to the coffee shop. If I buy coffee, I might as well write without the distractions of home while I’m there. I am waaaaaay more productive when I’m sitting outside, and I do a lot better when I’m not at home. I treat my local coffee shop like my office.

A few helpful things I’ve found out about myself and writing are:

  • I’m most productive in the morning. I give myself until 1pm if I need that long, but after my attention wanes.
  • I write better sitting outside than inside.
  • Listening to the same song on repeat helps me to write to a beat and eliminates distractions.
  • Allocating a specific amount of time to write helps me block out my to-do list for the rest of the day.
  • Getting the same coffee drink specifically when I write tells my brain it’s writing time.
  • Making word count/story goals for each writing session or per week helps me to gauge my progress.

When you’ve got a set schedule, setting time aside to write is intimidating because sitting in front of a blank computer screen or piece of paper for the entire time is definitely a possibility. That feels like a failure in the moment, but it’s not. Getting used to writing when you schedule time to takes practice. It took me a few months to get into it, but now I write five mornings a week.

Progress takes perseverance.

Remembering that at the beginning when nothing feels like progress is hard, so I trust my routine and my weekly goals. I know that if I write 1,500 words a morning, 5 days a week, I will have 120,000 words at the end of four months. They might not be good words. Some days I might write more or less. Some days I don’t write at all, because life happens. But that’s okay, because I have 2 days a week with no writing obligation that I can always make up words on, or else I give myself grace and acknowledge that I’m human, not a writing robot.

It’s a weird idea, to be creative on command. Writing is inspired. Sitting down and saying, “okay, self, be inspired right now” almost never works for me. But my routine taught me and my creative self that even creativity can be trained to be tapped into when I need it. It’s a continuation of thought, from day to day, that I only think about when I’m writing. I’m not demanding inspiration, I’m calling the conversation back that I had yesterday with the piece of paper in front of me.

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