in Daily Life, Introspection

The Early Bird

The last time Kris left town, I was a lonely man. I felt lost. She’s been gone all this week, too, but I’m not lonely yet. “Do you miss me?” she asks when she calls. I hesitate because I know the right answer. But I tell the truth.

“I haven’t had time to miss you yet,” I say. And I haven’t. I’ve been on the go non-stop ever since she left. If she were home, this would be one of those weeks during which it feels like we never see each other. In a way, this is good, I suppose, but ultimately it’s running me ragged.

I sat down at six yesterday afternoon to read Mark‘s story for the Woodstock Writers Guild. I dozed off. I slept for three hours, slumped in my easy chair. I woke at nine, cursed myself for missing the writers group meeting, and then trudged upstairs and went to bed.

My alarm woke me at four.

After some e-mail conversations with Leo, I’ve decided that best way for me to add time to write into my day is to build it into the front end. Leo suggests getting up at 4am, writing for a couple of hours, and then living life as normal, squeezing in extra writing if there’s time during the rest of the day. This may sound a little crazy to non-writers, but it makes perfect sense to me. I need a large block of uninterrupted time alone, during which I can get things done.

In order to wake up at 4am, though, I’m going to need to take a slightly different approach than normal. Usually I wake up, roll over, grab my laptop, and look at my site statistics and handle any e-mail crises. It’s 4:35 right now, and I haven’t checked e-mail or looked at stats. My goal is not to do so until 7. This may seem obsessive, but trust me: it’s a compulsion I have that I’ve been trying to break for months.

Instead, I pulled on some sweats, grabbed an apple and my pedometer, and headed out into the night. I took a walk around the block in the cool morning air. I communed with the morning cats; I listened to the Western screech owl in the neighbor’s tree; I watched a raccoon cross the road.

The trip around the block is one mile. I walked it in sixteen minutes. I munched on my apple and grogged awake. It felt good. I’ve been sitting at my computer typing for twenty minutes now. That feels good, too.

This plan holds much promise. Ten years ago, during the period in which I lost so much weight, one key to my success was that I got up at 5am most mornings to exercise at the high school track. I walked, biked, or ran a couple of miles, then went home and had a small breakfast. It was a great way to start the day.

I’m going to try something similar this summer. But most of all, I’m going to write.

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  1. I highly recommend the early morning routine. I know that many folks, esp. writers, find this the best time to get work done. Every since I was in grad school, when we lived in the farmhouse on Dryland Road, I’ve done my best work in the morning. I used to get up and study. Now, I wake and I’m “at” work by 6:30 if I’m working from home or by 7:00 if I go to Vantucky. I’m usually finished by 3:30, which gives me plenty of time to make dinner and putter about the house before retiring at a very reasonable hour. Now, if I could only train my body to function on less than 8 hours of sleep!

  2. The 4 am schedule has worked for Pulitzer-Prize winner Ted Kooser for 40 years. That bodes well for you, don’t you think?

    I guess I’m a little unusual in that my peak energy for writing comes after lunch. I love a quiet afternoon when I’m well-fed and well-awake and my other chores of the day are complete…