On July 5th, I made this statement on here:
I should probably dedicate a blog post to this but, for now, I’m going to say my writing routine has easily become one of my favorite times of the day.
Some of you, and others, have expressed interest in this statement and a subsequent blog post. Well, here it is:
A month ago I decided to make a change in my life. Perhaps I should back up first. Ever since I can remember I have always done better working the morning. I can remember Getting up at 4am in high school to finish a homework assignment.
Even back then I realized when I was the most productive and when my brain would function best. I remember when I was in junior high, I wanted to start a comic strip. I would wake up extremely early in the morning and work on this comic strip. This is something I have always done.
Ok, skip ahead. For the past four or five years I have been getting up at 3:30 in the morning. I would get dressed and head to the gym. I would workout from 4-5. Then come home, cool down, and get ready for work. It’s been a productive system for me for a long time.
A lot of times in the evening I will get home from work, change clothes and do another workout with the wife. She usually wants to go for a bike ride or walking so that’s what we did.
For quite a while now I’ve been wanting to write a book. Actually, I’ve got several book ideas floating around in my head. I’ve never had time, though. Working multiple jobs and preparing for radio and TV broadcasts take a lot of time. Not to mention my 40-hour day job. So the books have always been put on the back burner. However, the itch has been really bad over the past six months.
Last month I was scrolling through YouTube looking at videos on journaling methods (I’m still new to journaling and trying to figure out some personal stuff….don’t judge). I came across a video that talked about morning pages. Now I was familiar with this concept already from some podcasts I had listened to in the past.
I was not familiar with the reason behind doing morning pages. First off, what is mornin pages? In a nutshell, it’s three pages of long-form, stream-of-conscious writing first thing in the morning. This type of writing I found out is supposed to help unlock creativity. The general idea from what I gathered is you’re doing a brain dump first thing in the morning. So all this stuff that has been stored in your brain gets dumped out on the paper, allowing more creative stuff to enter.
When I heard this explained, it hit me pretty hard. Like I said, I heard people talk about morning pages but never explain it. Sidebar here, I could have taken the time to read the book The Artist Way which would have explained it all but I didn’t do that.
As I said, this idea hit me pretty hard and stated rattling around in my brain. So I decided I was going to try this. The next morning I woke up, grabbed a notebook and pen and started writing. I filled up three pages, put the book down and went about my day. The next day I did the same thing. Then the next and the next and the next.
Something happened at some point in time during this process. I realized my brain was using this time to workout problems. To workout ideas or find solutions to a situation. Either at work or home or with me personally. It became a time of venting about work or family drama. It also became a time of self reflection. All this stuff that was in my brain that needed or wanted to get out. It finally did. Finally had an escape route.
This morning I did my 29th straight day of this. I got up every morning while on vacation and wrote. I even went down to the ocean and wrote a couple of times while listening to the waves crashing.
A few things of note have happened because of this practice. First off, during one of the writing sessions about two weeks in I was griping about not having enough time to write a book. So my brain went to work on fixing this. Realizing that I work better in the morning time, I decided to try and fix my morning routine. Maybe fix is the wrong word because it’s not broken. Change would be a better word to use.
Realizing my brain works better in the morning, I decided to change my workflow to better suit me. Since I was working out twice a day, why couldn’t I change that to just once a day? This would allow me to substitute something in its place. Which is what I did. I decided to substitute writing in the place of the early morning workout.
Wake up time is still the same. Well, I actually pulled it back a little. My alarm goes off at 3:10 on the weekdays and 5 on the weekends. Now, I get up and do my morning pages first thing. Depending on the day this takes about 30 - 45 minutes. Then I start writing on my book. Sometimes I only get to write for an hour. Sometimes I get to write for two or longer. It all depends on the day. The thing that makes my book writing a little different right now is the fact that I decided to write the first draft with pen and paper. I have a fountain pen that I am using with a leuchtturm notebook.
This small change has completely revolutionized my writing. I’m actually moving the needle every single day with writing this book. Something I thought I didn’t have time is now something I look forward to every single day.
I know an hour or two isn’t a long time of writing but it’s pushing towards my goal. And let’s be honest, I don’t have a deadline for this thing. It’s something I want to do. So taking this step eliminated a huge obstacle for me: time.
I’ve recently added a 10 minute mediation block to my routine as well. Over the past six months I’ve really been cognitive of mental health. Maybe because we are seeing so many issues in the world that seem to be attributed to this. Apple has made mental health a big deal with the newest iOS release. I take advantage of some of those features as well. This is why I started journaling also.
One of the things I’ve always been interested in is meditation. I’ve never practiced it. As a matter of fact, growing up it was frowned upon inside the church that I attended. It was looked at as a bad thing.
During one of my morning pages sessions, I started talking about meditation. Then I decided to take 10 minutes and meditate every morning. A friend of mine from church told me about a free app called Lectio 365. It’s a meditation app that also combines scripture reading and praying. It takes about 10 minutes every day. I had already downloaded it so I decided to give it a try.
I fell in love with the practice immediately. It was exactly what I was looking for. I have since downloaded the free app Oak. It’s another meditation app.
So, thanks to my morning pages routine my morning routine has completely changed.
This is what it used to look like:
- 3:30 wake up - 4:00 arrive at gym - 4:00 - 5:00 workout - 5:10 get back home - 5:10 - 6:00 cooldown - 6:00 get ready for work
Now it looks like this: - 3:10 wake up - 3:15 - 4:00 morning pages - 4:00 - 4:10 meditation - 4:15 - 6:00 book writing - 6:00 get ready for work