Why Writing Should Happen First Thing in the Morning

Everyone has their own “writing time” that works for them. I used to write at night after my dear room-mate had gone to bed because a) my imagination always felt a little stronger in the dark and b) I used to be a night owl and c) there were usually guaranteed to be no interruptions or distractions.

I no longer write in the evening. Now that I live alone, I have the luxury of several “interruption-free” times every day (although, of course, someone ALWAYS manages to phone me or IM me when I am writing; there must be some strange energy in the universe that clues people in to that sort of thing). Now, when I’m being “good,” I write first thing in the morning. And I’m learning I need to be fanatical about it, because lately, if I don’t write first thing, I don’t write at all (thus, two post-free days).

At the beginning of each day, it always feels like I have so much time to get everything done. But the truth is, I never do. And the truth is also that, at the beginning of the day, I don’t yet have a realistic idea of everything that will NEED to get done that day. On Tuesday, I wrote for an hour before I did anything else. It was a good thing I did, because later that day I got a huge assignment on a short deadline that canceled all the plans I had I (including grocery shopping, which was a hard one to give up) except a commitment I’d made for another client. As the time got eaten up, I felt a little sigh of relief within every time I remembered that I’d already written for the day. The most important work was already done.

The project kept me up late on Tuesday, and I had a commitment early Wednesday morning, so I only had a few hours sleep. The beauty of freelancing, of course, is that there’s the flexibility for things like naps. Which I exploited to its fullest, losing 3.5 hours of the day to it yesterday. When I was awake, I had another work commitment in the evening (which ended up taking 4 hours) and at this point, I needed to get groceries (no food) and I needed to do dishes (so I had a clean fork to eat the food with). I told myself I would write “right before bed,” thinking the nap would make it hard for me to fall asleep. But I’d expected the four-hour commitment to take about two hours, so when it ran twice as long, I was beat by the time I was finished (and not wanting to repeat a marathon nap two days in a row). The end result? No writing yesterday.

I’m not saying that everyone should write first thing in the morning, because I’m not about to impose my own daily writing rhythm on another writer. But I do think that if you’ve designated a time for writing, as I have, you need to keep it as sacred as if you had made that commitment to someone else. Because writers are top-of-the-line procrastinators, and there will always be something more important that has to come “first.” SO, if it is your writing time, don’t check your email. Don’t run to the post office. Don’t answer your phone. Don’t do the dishes. Write. Just write. You will somehow find time for all the rest, but your writing time deserves your best, uncluttered, uninterrupted time.

Now, if only I could learn to follow my own advice. 😉