So what happens in the middle of the day?
You know how some people describe themselves as morning people, that they’re at their best in the morning? Then there are others, the night people, who declare their thoughts are clearer at night. I almost feel like we talk ourselves into this – that at the beginning there might be some foundation behind it, that perhaps our body chemistry does wacky things to us at different times of the day and night. But there’s strong evidence that our minds can control our bodies to a large degree, that a shift in attitude could have an effect our physical selves. Consider this TED talk by Amy Cuddy, who discusses the effect our physical actions have on the body chemistry and in our brains (and who also touches on imposter syndrome).
I’ve talked myself into believing that I’m both a morning person and an evening person, when it comes to writing. Nay, I’ve demonstrated it to myself, with the motivation of NaNoWriMo.
I have memories of bouncing out of bed in the morning as a kid, with enthusiasm. This carried on well into my adolescence, it was only when I was a teenager that I began sleeping in until noon at every opportunity I could get. (I’m sure there’s some scientific reason or other for that, it’s too much of a behavioural pattern in many teenagers to consider it coincidence). Other that those few years, I’ve not had much of a problem getting up and out of bed early. Being organised is something entirely different, doing something other than writing is also entirely different. If I know that I have writing waiting for me in the morning, I usually like to get to it, and therefore I have developed a morning routine. Get up. Write. That’s the start of my morning.
I have a three year old. This is what happens to the rest of the day. Then she goes to bed, and I have more free time. I usually spend a little bit of it writing (an hour or so) and then off to watch some small screen entertainment. This is a routine that is very productive for me. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but it’s also taken me a long time to make writing an honest priority in my life. I don’t know exactly what the hell I was doing beforehand – I’d produced some short stories that I managed to get published, I’d written a bunch of false starts to novels that were never properly planned out, and I guess a half-assed idea would inevitably become a half-assed attempt. I’ve always been excited by writing, but never took the attitude that it was something important enough to finish. My writing was important to me, so very important that I could never imagine myself without it, yet finishing the novel was something to fantasise about! How bizarre is that? There’s a sign for a necessary attitude adjustment.
I hope to complete these 50,000 words and then some – my true goal is to write the whole novel in November (and it’s looking like it needs about 80K to be told all up). If I don’t manage that, then so be it, but what I really want, from this morning/night writing routine, is to keep doing it. If I can produce 50+K words in a month just because I’m writing for 2-3 hours every day, then I can make it daily routine. I need the work ethic to be drilled into me, to make a habit of it. If a finished work or 50K words isn’t good enough a success to inspire me, then I don’t know what is.