Morning Routine

One of the best ways I’ve found to consistently produce pages and have time to work on my fiction is to do it first thing in the morning.  I’ve even gone through periods when I set the alarm for 5 or 5:30 and spend the first two hours of the day doing nothing but writing.  (Hmmm, maybe it is time to consider setting the alarm again.  There is something so nice about being able to get up when I wake up.  And since I generally wake up before 6:30, I haven’t been pushing myself.)

This morning I read about the morning routine of Michael Masterson, copywriter extraordinaire and millionaire and author.  I like him; for some reason he doesn’t annoy me as so many of the rah-rah business guys do.  Every Sunday he sends out a newsletter called Early to Rise, and today’s had a great article called "A Life-Changing Early-Morning Routine," about how he organizes his time to put his most important goals first.  He’ll spend the first hour of the day doing a task that pushes forward his most important goal.  The results are nothing short of incredible:

"I’ve used this amazing technique to write six books, produce a record,
and script and direct a feature-length film. I used it again last year
to write 350 poems – one a day, after I began on January 15. And I am
using it this year to get that book of poems published and to write six
other books (five business books under the Michael Masterson pen name,
and a novel with my personal byline)."

It’s worth it to go read the article because he goes into detail about how he does it. 

The one thing that he doesn’t mention in the article, probably because for him it goes without saying, is discipline.  Once you get in the hang of doing this, it becomes self-affirming.  You’re getting so much done and feeling so good about it that you pop out of bed when the alarm rings, get going on the work, and your day is set.  The one thing that you do not do is check email.  You do not do this under any circumstances.  You also do not decide that you need to check your blog stats, real quick, or do a quick scan of the morning news.

One thing that also helps is accountability.  When I wrote the first draft of my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, I was rising with the dawn.  Thousands of miles south of me, in warm and lovely Pasadena, my wonderful friend Suzanne was also rising early to work on her photography.  We had an iron-clad pact that we would email each other first thing to say that we were awake and if one of us didn’t get an email, we would call the other.  As you can imagine, this worked rather well, since neither or us wanted to be the slacker who didn’t get up.

It is especially useful when you have pressing deadlines for other work that you know will fill the rest of your day, because you have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve taken time for your most important goal.  That glow of satisfaction will spill over into your other work.  It helps to take away the "I’m wasting my life working for the Man" mental whine that we all get into to.  Somehow, it is way easier to work for the Man, be he a full-time job or a temporary free-lance master, when you’ve devoted time to your own work first.

Okay, so I’ve convinced myself.  I’m setting the alarm tomorrow.  Anybody want to join me?

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9 Comments on "Morning Routine"

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rainer
Guest
03/30/2008 13:38

Well so you are a early riser? Thank you for this encouraging post, which I find very helpful and inspiring.

David
Guest
03/30/2008 14:04
I have been using the early morning for some time now to take photos. The light is so excellent. There is the sunrise which can be difficult because it overpowers the camera. But there is also the reflection of the light on many things that you will not see an hour or so after the sunrise. Everything is fresh in the morning both in the landscape and in my mind. It is a great time of day. And another good thing about it is that it is easier to go to sleep at night around ten pm. It is easy… Read more »
RennyBA
Guest
03/30/2008 15:05

First of all, this post was a great read and I’ve enjoined surfing around among your friends.

I defiantly won’t join your time schedule though!! I’m what you in Norway call a B-Person: meaning I’m late in bed and late up in the morning. Right now its just passed midnight and I haven’t finished visiting my blog friends yet. So please don’t call me when you wake up tomorrow morning then – well, maybe it wont be that bad since I live in Norway – consider the time different then 😆

Wishing you a great week ahead 🙂

Charlotte
Guest
03/30/2008 16:20

Yes, Rainier, I am an early riser. I got into the habit of getting up early when my kids were babies and I never got out of it. Now, like David, I love it. If I for some reason sleep even until 7:30 I feel like I’ve missed part of the day.

Renny, your post just proves one of my pet theories: the world is split between early risers and night owls! I guess I won’t be calling you early tomorrow morning, after all.

Jack Payne
Guest
04/02/2008 22:59

I always followed the morning routine. Back in the 1970s (my high-productive years–1 year, 7 books) I would pop out of bed every day and dash to my old IBM Selectric Typewriter and clack out the ganged up ideas that accumulated overnight.

Charlotte
Guest
04/03/2008 15:14

7 books in 1 year? That must be a world record. Very impressive. Loved those old Selectrics, too.

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[…] many people (myself included) have written about the benefits of a morning routine, doing such things as yoga, meditating, or […]

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[…] I actually wrote a post related to the subject of being prepared earlier this week, called, Morning Routine.  Be sure to read the comments, too, there are some good ones.  Another related post is, Writing […]

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[…] One of the newsletters that I stick with and always read is Early to Rise. Michael Masterson, whose newsletter it is (though others contribute) has made a fortune from copywriting and he always has good ideas and interesting points of view.  I've actually pointed to one of his posts before, in this post. […]

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