COUNTING DOWN THE STORM (Temporarily Unavailable) A Novella by D. Ryan Leask
For two days the storm has taken over the city, and two people's lives. A man convinces himself that his life is worthless when his lover leaves him for another man. Alone and depressed, he allows his life to sink into the bowels of civilization. When a wife and mother discovers that her husband is having an affair she abandons logic and gives in to the perilous abyss of jealousy and revenge.
Re-Launch Tentatively Scheduled for Oct 17th:
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is Early Morning Writing Right For You?

This started out as a response to a blog post by the wonderful horror novelist R.A. Evans (read Asylum Lake).  In his post (link here) he talks about ways to find time to write.  It's some really awesome advice and if you aren't a full time writer (and let's face it only a select few are and likely no one reading this blog).  He has five easy steps.

There are two parts to this blog.  My personal foray into early morning writing and steps to be successful in your own journey.

How I Started Early Morning Writing 

A few weeks ago, before I read R.A.'s blog I did an inventory of my time.  I am a father of two.  My son is a busy 2-½ year old boy who wants to spend every waking hour with his daddy and try as I may to write when he is awake I can't help but give in to his pleas to play or bike ride or do other fun things that little boys want to do with there dads.  My daughter was born in March so she is really new.  My services are needed there a lot as well.  Especially after my son goes to bed.  My wife is struggling getting used to being at home all day and craves my attention in the evenings for some adult interaction even if it's just sitting on the couch, chatting or watching TV.  If I attempt to write after she goes to bed I tend to go a little overboard.  I have been known to write until well into the morning which messes up my day/week/month/mood.  She learned long ago that if she doesn't get me to bed when she goes I may not sleep (I once spent an entire night on the computer designing a track for an online game called line racer).  Good call honey!

I also have a day job.  It's not overly demanding and I can get some writing done during the day if I work hard and fast on what I have to do and keep a look out over my shoulder.  This is not optimal and I may REALLY get in trouble some day (I am at work while I am writing this yikes).  So as per Mr. Evan's blog here is a typical weekday.

  • 7:00-8:00 - Prep for Work
  • 8:00-8:15 - Commute (Driving wish I could take public transportation, used to write on the bus on the way to my old job)
  • 8:15-12:00 - Work
  • 12:00-1:00 - Lunch, I usually spend at least a half an hour writing and eating.
  • 1:00 - 4:30 - Work
  • 4:30 - 4:45 - Commute
  • 4:45 - 7:30 - Spend time with my son, eat supper, do odds and ends around the house
  • 7:30 - 8:00 - Put son to bed
  • 8:00 - 10:00 - Quality time with my wife
  • 10:00-7:00 - Sleep (well as much as I can with a 6week old sharing the bed)
Weekends are entirely at the wit and whim of my wife and any free time I can sneak in go into upkeep and maintenance of our home/cars etc.

So about three weeks ago I sat down with my wife and we had a very frank discussion about how serious I was about writing and how I felt that I wasn't getting the time I needed to do it.  I would like to say that I feel that my wife is supportive of my writing, and in her own way I guess she is, however she is not willing to sacrifice any of her time with me to let me pursue my passion.  I sat down and thought about what I could sacrifice.  After all it is my passion.  I looked at my schedule.  Sleeping from 10:00 - 7:00?  Sometimes we are even in bed earlier.  Do I really need nine hours of sleep?  I wanted to do two things.  Prove to my wife that I was serious about my writing (she is not without cause to think I may not be, I chased the dream once and abandoned it) and I also wanted to prove it to myself.

I'm not sure what other people are like but to me sleep is one of the most important things in the world.  If I could sleep 10-12 hours every night I would.  I had to tell myself that writing was more important than getting 9 instead of 8 hours of sleep.  That is easy to do on the front end but I already expressed earlier why I shouldn't stay up later.

Three weeks ago I decided that it was time.  I had to tell myself that writing is more important than sleeping and if I wanted to write 6:00am was the time to do it.  No one is awake, I have until 7:30 before I have to get ready for work (on Saturdays I can sometimes even write until 9:00!) and it's just me and my coffee and a bowl of Shredded Wheat with a little too much brown sugar on it.

If You Want to Be an Early Morning Writer...

1: Just Do it!
If you are already a morning person than you obviously don't have much trouble getting going.  Me, I find that I have drank an entire pot of coffee before I have gotten the energy to even blink.  You have to realize it's a mind set, a habit you must break, figure out your priorities.  I always thought that getting up before you had to was for old people.  That normal people stayed in bed for as long as they possibly could, calculating what you could shave off time wise to hit that snooze button one more time.  An hour and a half of writing?  That's like ten hits on the snooze button!  STOP IT! If you can't find anything other than some sleep time to sacrifice for writing time you are likely a grown up (I'd use adult but I was that long before I became a grown-up).  As a grown up you don't need to laze around in bed as long as you can.  If you are serious about writing then use this time.  If you have to skip watching the news and go to bed an hour earlier so be it.

2: Eliminate Distractions
It is so much easier to surf, hang out on twitter, catch up on e-mail and all the other things that computers are used for.  It's time to pretend your computer is a typewriter.  The computer I use is almost old enough to vote.  I can't hook up to the Internet if I wanted to.  Have an old laptop kicking around?  Use that if you can.  Trust me, early in the morning is the easiest time to click on the little e  (or C or whatever) and then before you know it, it's time for work.  Unplug your computer from the Internet, create a profile that can't access.  Do something that will keep you from turning on the Internet.  This time is for writing only, not even anything writer related (research/marketing etc).  Have your coffee and breakfast ready before you start, feed and walk your dogs, drug your wife, whatever it takes to eliminate anything that will get in the way of your productivity.

3: Start With "Mindless" Work
I knew from the get go that there was no way I could write new stuff at that time in the morning.  If you are an outliner, that's awesome.  Don't try outlining, try filling stuff in.  I am not an outliner, I am a plodder.  If I try to plod ahead with my story this early in the morning when I'm not used to hid my face will be in the dirt.  Nothing is more disheartening writing page after page of crap.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no.......... you get the picture.

I had a story written in a few notebooks.  I used that.  I just started transcribing it.  It was pretty mindless work and I was able to write almost 1000 words everyday from it.  I'm likely one of a few that actually hand writes much but what you can do is edit, go through your WIP and re-read it.  If you don't want to do that what about rehashing and old story that you've written.  Maybe you have no choice but to work on either your WIP or something new.  Do what you wish, but if you are frustrated that your writing is sub-par take it down a notch.

4: No Excuses
I do it six days a week.  I take Sundays off because, lets face it, I'm dedicated but not crazy.  Think of it like your job.  If you stayed up late the night before and were really tired could you sleep in in the morning?  (The answer is no by the way).  You have to tell yourself you are doing this because you are a serious writer.  Explain to those around you that getting up early doesn't mean unloading the dishwasher or taking the dogs for an extra walk or changing a poopie diaper.  If you wake up to a puddle on the floor from a blown pipe think to yourself, if I had woken up an hour later then what?  Go write and deal with it in a hour.

5: Be Accountable
Share your writing with people, your S.O., tweet about it, set goals and share them in a Blog with a table.  My goal is to write at least 500 words every morning.  I tried to set up a club on twitter (#6amWriters) where you reported you word count and encouraged others to share theirs.  So far I have only convinced one person to do it one time, I blame it on #pubwrite.  If this could get off the ground it would be a great resource.  I find that it's all fine and good to set your goals and try to achieve them but if the only guilt you feel for not doing it is your own you eventually loose focus and that snooze button starts growing again. 

Thanks for Reading
D. Ryan Leask

1 comment:

  1. Haha, nice! I don't know about the #6amWriters thing, though. It would work better for me if it were a #3amWriters club, because my best writing hours are between 11pm-4am. Like you, I also sacrifice sleep, but rather than getting up early I stay up late. I am way too groggy and out of it in the morning to think coherently enough to write. #Pubwrite is still great though, I've met a lot of good people there.