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.

Five Tips for Productivity Infograph for a More Creative Day!

Five Tips for Productivity Infograph for a More Creative Day!

How to Create a Productive Day

There are many mornings where I have created a productivity schedule in my head before climbing out of bed. And then, before you know it, it is 11:00 am and I am still answering emails or doing other chores completely unrelated to what I intended to get done. If you have this problem also. I hope you will find this infographic and its 5 tips helpful.

Start your day with meditation or a simple exercise

I must say that I have tried this for both meditation and exercise, and usually, I am too anxious to begin my day to focus in this way. What I have been successful at is sitting in a quiet area of the house and reading a few pages of a book. The trick to this is to get up before the rest of the household. Also, I choose a book that is related to writing and one that is really speaking to a current project that I’m working on. My current morning reading is I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory, by Patrica Hampl.

Turn off all distractions

I have found that if I go right to my laptop with my morning tea, I am doomed for the rest of the day. Yes, I tell myself that I will just check my email and then I will get up and go read or write in my “unplugged” area, but this never works. I have to go straight to my table and chair that is a gadget-free zone. When I incorporate this morning routine, my productivity increases exponentially.

Create a checklist of all you want to accomplish

This is an easy one for me – I am the checklist queen. I do this every day and feel good when I cross things off the list. I may not get them all done, but those that I don’t, I add to the next day.

Set milestones

This might be the hardest one to stick to. I have some success with setting milestones, or blocks of time to complete a task. But, I have many distractions from family members and others (husband, mother, mother-in-law, ranch hand, caregivers, deliveries, animals…), so this is something that I will try to incorporate more. Of course, some tasks lend themselves to time limits than others. There is a method for setting time milestones called, the Pomodoro method.

There are six steps in the technique:

  1. Decide on the task that you need to do.
  2. Set the Pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
  4. After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
  6. After four Pomodoro, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.

Clear your mind and come back to it

I do like to hyperfocus when I am writing. When I’m in the zone, this might mean I can go for a few hours without getting up from my laptop – not good! Now I wear a wrist pedometer that vibrates when I need to move (yes, I often ignore it). I also try to get my 10,000 steps in a day, so that requires that I walk more between tasks. That is a stronger motivator. I really want to avoid a long treadmill session, so I prefer short walk breaks spread out over the day.

Conclusion to improve productivity

Perhaps you will only use a few of these productivity tips, but even if you use one or two, no doubt you will see some improvement for gaining more creative time in your day for your priorities. Please comment below if you have found any of these ideas helpful, or if you have some of your own to add!