#63: The Joy of Early Mornings

Welcome to another Writing Update—a weekly journal where I document the ups and downs of my writing life.

I hope that your NaNo novel is going well. Don’t get discouraged if you’re falling behind! Easy to say for someone who’s not actually doing it, ha!

I did have a productive week, though. I edited four chapters. That’s about twice as many that I can typically manage. At the moment, I’m eight chapters away from the end. Fingers crossed, the second draft will be done soon. As scary as that sounds, I think it’ll take me one more pass to have the book ready. But let’s not jump ahead. Eight chapters are still eight chapters.

Earlier this year, I used to get up at 5.30 a.m. every day to write. I’d make a cup of coffee and spend about two hours getting the most important things done every morning before moving on to anything else. I wouldn’t hit my goal every time, but I would try every single day.

Then the summer came along. The long days got me into the habit of going to bed late. And let me tell you, few things in life are as pointless as getting up at half five when you went to bed at 1 a.m. Given a choice, I’ll take sleep over staring absently at the wall any day of the week. So my getting up early habit was gone. And I started missing it.

You see, I find hitting my word count goal before breakfast incredibly liberating. It feels like you’re getting ahead of everybody else. Plus you don’t have to deal with as many distractions as when you write in the evening when everybody’s tired and just wants to talk.

After a few failed attempts, I returned to my early morning routine two weeks ago. I get up every day at the same time and do the same thing, but it’s unbelievable how much it helps.

In a sense, getting up early is similar to writing or running. At the moment, I never want to do it. All sorts of excuses start popping up inside my head. It feels weird. I hate it. But every time I push the resentment and actually get up or go for a run or sit down to write, I’m happy that I did.

I’ve been a regular runner for the past four years. I run five miles every other day and only rarely skip sessions. Still, about 80% of the time, I don’t feel like going. I’m too tired, too busy. It’s too dark, too cold or raining too much. There’s always something, but I make myself go anyway.

I don’t think this resistance ever goes away. It’s part of the process. You just get better at fighting it.

What I am reading

I finished Milkman by Anna Burns this week. It wasn’t a bad book, but it sure was an onerous read. The author’s paragraphs run for pages on end with dialogue mixed in. I’m not a massive fan that sort of stream-of-consciousness writing. But I don’t normally read literary fiction, so I’m glad to have picked this one up.

Murder Underground

This week, I’ll be finishing a much lighter Murder Underground by Mavis Doriel Hay from the British Library Classic Crime collection. Given the two titles, that’s pretty ironic.

If you remember last week’s post, I challenged myself to read a short story every day in November, and that’s what I did this week. Here’s what I read:

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

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