Morning Person – NOT – Body Rhythms Writing Myths, Realities, and Morning Pages

Morning Person – NOT – Body Rhythms Writing Myths, Realities, and Morning Pages

Morning Person – NOT – Body Rhythms Writing Myths, Realities, and Morning Pages

We all have our ideal morning, right? We wake up refreshed, get right to our keyboard, or morning pages journal and favorite pen, with a steaming mug of our favorite caffeinated beverage. The house is quiet. We have been good and not peeked at messages or emails. We commence writing something worthy, something all our own.

Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.
― Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues

It used to be that my favorite time of day was the hour or so before I go to sleep, work and chores done, curled in bed with a book. Now, however, or for the last two weeks at least, I have conquered my natural body rhythms (sleep, and then well, some more sleep) and have woken up with the sunrise. I have stolen at least an hour each morning before my work day for writing. Am I kidding myself? When will I revert to my natural sleep-in-as-long-as-possible rhythm? Is there even such a thing as a body clock? Or are these merely habits to reinforce or break? Yes, gasp, I think I may be becoming a morning person.

Body Rhythm Myths & Realities

morning pages

So, to reinforce this habit, how are we to reinvent our routines to accommodate our modern realities? While our bodies may be naturally tuned to wake at sunrise and wind down at sunset, most of us no longer keep traditional farmer schedules. In 1959, Dr. Franz Halberg coined this natural rhythm of sleep and wakefulness, the circadian rhythm. Circadian comes from the Latin meaning, “about a day.”

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, circadian rhythms are about 24-hour cycles regulated by control centers in the middle of the brain called, the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). The circadian rhythm reaches the most sleepiness in the middle of the night, reaches the least at awakening, while slight drowsiness then returns mid-afternoon. Indeed, besides sleep, there are about 100 known body functions that oscillate from high to low in a 24-hour period. With these built-in functions in mind, perhaps we should clue-in and work with them instead of against them.

Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.
—George Singleton

Listen to Your Mother

My writing life has suffered from my need for sleep. If I don’t get 8 to 9 hours a night, I feel groggy, and by the end of the week, if I remain at a cumulative deficit, I can even become ill. Then a good chunk of my weekend is lost to catching up on sleep…then Sunday night it is hard to get to sleep and of course, Monday morning, well, sucks. But, of course, my mother, who is always right, is right and if I force myself to get up at the same time EVERY morning, then I do sleep deeper and need less sleep. I am trying this logic again; it is working for now. I am happy, I am rested, and I am writing.

A Place to Start

If you need some new tool incentives (or a fresh smelling journal), one of the first early morning writing evangelists was Julia Cameron. Her The Artist's Way book and its subsequent offshoots are a good place to begin if you want some structure around your writing morning efforts. While certainly not the inventor of the practice, she coined the term, morning pages.

The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages. – Julia Cameron

 

morning pages

Conclusion

I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.
—Ray Bradbury

While modernity, with its productive extended hours of electric light, technology, and gadgets of every sort has extended our abilities beyond nature’s boundaries, we are still tied, body and mind to the earth’s rotation and the sun’s cycles. If we remember to honor circadian rhythms in our daily schedule and activities, Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep will reward us with more deep slumber and all its benefits, including early bird writing.

Please share what your morning writing routine is like, what has helped, or your morning person (or not) experiences.

A Simple System for Blog Topics Before the Rooster Crows

A Simple System for Blog Topics Before the Rooster Crows

A Simple System for Blog Topics and Writing Ideas

Blog Topics

Ready, Set…

When you only have an hour to write, that hour is precious. When that hour comes early, early in the morning (as in, before the rest of the family wakes up) that hour is a precious metal beyond name or price. The last thing you want is to squander that hour thinking about what blog topics to write about, or worse, floundering on the Internet for ideas. Some mornings I’m ready to go with an idea before I get out of bed. Others, like today, I’ve got nothing, nada. So, from now on, I will have a pre-made list with many juicy possibilities.

With that preamble, here is a simple system for you and me to create a list of interesting blog topics or article ideas that will be ready to go the next morning.

Categories or Themes

Create categories or themes that tie-in with your blog or website theme or purpose. If you don’t have a theme or purpose, well, nothing like the present. If you don’t like making lists, use mind-mapping software, a white board, or simple pencil and paper if you don’t already have a clear notion of what your themes are (or what you would like them to be). One of my favorite mind-mapping tools is Mind Meister. It is also collaborative if you work with a team.

One simple way to do mind-mapping is to put your category in the center of your page or whiteboard, draw a circle around it. Then go to the next step below (Word Association) and add the word associations around the category with connecting lines or however you want to creatively designate their connections. The idea with mind-mapping is to give your brain (or body/brain) a different way of making connections.

blog topics

Word Association

With each category named, for each one do some word or free association and quickly write down a word that first comes to mind. Don’t over-think this, just brainstorm. Try to come up with 2 to 3 words for each category. (You can thank Freud later…)

Freud

Word to Phrase Expansion

Now that you have 1 to 3, or more words per category, you have some choices. Depending on the time and energy that you can spend on this exercise, you can try to expand each word in each category into a phrase, sentence, or larger idea. Or, if your time is limited for the day, pick one category and expand each word in that category only. Now you should be seeing at least one or two worthy ideas to write about for your blog topics the next few mornings. Of course, if you have more time, you can map out blog topics for your entire week, or longer. Be mindful, however, that if you map out too many for the future when it comes time to write about them, you may have forgotten your intent or the idea may lose its energy or focus.

Daily Planning

If you can do the above exercise once a day, perhaps working with one category or even one category sentence at a time, you will go a long way to greasing the wheels of your unconscious to work on the idea even further while you sleep. Don’t spend more than 30 minutes on this planning, and try to do it close to bedtime. You will be amazed what your dream time can spin. And, yes, I have a rooster.

Blog topics

Conclusion

While this simple exercise may seem obvious (now that I’ve explained it, duh) and not very sexy, I think you will find it helpful not only for article or blog topics, but also to discover your blog or website overall theme(s). For myself, I like a certain amount of freedom to discover my themes and to have the flexibility to change them. But there does come a time when it is beneficial to develop a focus. This allows you to not only target, or find a more specific audience, it also affords you the magic to begin to dig deeper into your niche and area(s) of expertise. And you might surprise yourself.