I have fallen into a pattern over the years where I have a certain time of the day I like to write. It started, I think, because the super early mornings are the quietest time in my house. Everyone is asleep. There is nothing to distract, there are no people to entertain, there is no guilt about other things I could be doing…I just write.
The hours of writing are pretty rigid. 0400 until about 0800 is it. If I am up any earlier than that, I use that time to do whatever until 0400 because seriously, I cannot reward getting up earlier than four in the morning with extra writing time. It would seriously get out of hand. After 0800, the guilt starts to creep in around the other stuff that I should be doing. I fall straight into “oh my god you big piece of shit you aren’t even getting paid to do this so get up off your ass and wash a dish, cook a meal, pick up a sock, or something productive” mode.
While this time frame has served me well, there are some real drawbacks to it.
First, the obvious. Sleep. I like laying around in the bed as much as anyone else. I have to make the choice. Sleep or write. When I started running, the choices became even harder – sleep, run, write. It becomes pretty daunting to a schedule when three wonderful things are all fighting for the same time slot.
Second, I have a lot of unfinished stuff. Worse, I have stuff I just say fuck it and delete. The time slot feels like a deadline. If I can’t produce in the amount of time given to me, it just isn’t there (or so I have conditioned myself to think). Usually I just hit delete. Sometimes I will save it, but honestly, I rarely go back to any of it. I write in the moment so often, it is hard to put it down and go back to it later.
The third thing is akin to the second. I don’t have a large project and I would really like to. But I never feel like I have the appropriate time to devote to a larger writing project. I also am afraid to commit to a theme that I feel today but won’t feel tomorrow and then what am I supposed to do with that? It’s almost the same way I feel when I am registering for a long race. This is so far out in the future. How will I ever be able to plan for this? What if something happens? Can I really be ready? What if I spend this money and then I just can’t get there? Won’t that be a waste? Won’t that make me feel like a failure?
Let me tell you that all those things happen in the brain of writers and runners. It really does provide a compelling argument to choose sleep.
Finally (at least for right now) is I think I have the misfortune of conditioning myself to both writing at this time, and also to ONLY write at this time. If I don’t make those hours for whatever reason, I’m not writing. Even if I really need to. This is not productive. If an idea comes up outside of those hours, it gets very little attention paid to it. I don’t even make a note of it. I have become so accustomed to the time parameters that I have justified in my brain that all worthy ideas will happen during those times and any ideas outside of that time will not be worthy once I get around to them. I then further conclude that because those things are true, I am only creating mess and clutter by attempting to preserve these snipets of worthless thoughts and really, who needs that in their life?
Me. I need that in my life. I need to be more open to the words that come into my head, the ideas that rattle around in my brain.
Me. I need to be more flexible with my reception to ideas and times to just put words on paper. So writing at night feels different than writing in the morning. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe there is something there I have never discovered, a groove I’ve never explored because I have convinced myself that it just isn’t “the way I’m wired” or whatever.
Me. I need sticky notes every where. Journal pages scribbled on. Every where. Half formed ideas and snippets of thought snatched from a moment of time to be revisited later when their full worth or lack thereof can be better measured. My ideas, my thoughts, while not all spectacular, are at least worth more than a passing throw off because the timing wasn’t optimal.
Me, I need bravery in the process. That it won’t all be good and that’s okay. That it won’t all feel good and that’s okay. That it won’t all be true and that’s okay. That it won’t all be my voice rather another that I am trying on because I have never walked that way before and how can I explore all the pieces of the world if I only take the same trips over and over again?