Distraction Morning Routine
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Wednesday Within: How I Get Derailed (You, Too?)


My brain looks like these Christmas lights some mornings.

Another title for this post might be Why You Need a Routine.  Or more to the point, why I need one.

Here's the setup: A morning in December. After a busy weekend of Christmas parties (we survived hub's resurrected Christmas office gala!) and work deadlines (yes, on the weekend—it was for a special project that I will reveal soon), I woke up at 5:45 as usual.  (My eyes pop open any time from 5:30 to 6.  Don't shoot me, it's just the way it is.)

As usual, I went right to my computer, with one quick detour to grab coffee and a big glass of water, with the intention to get back to work on my novel rewrite.  It is cruising right along but last week I hit a bump of the my-brain-needs-a-break-to-think-about-the-story sort.  And it was high time to get back to it, because I've assigned myself a deadline of finishing by the end of January.

And so I opened the computer, with the idea to work on it.  And I didn't.  I checked email.  Looked at blog stats.  Opened the Buzzfeed story that featured photos of Prince George.  Clicked back over and answered an email.  Thought about a blog post I'd committed to write later in the week, and a student packet that was almost late, and a program I was doing about goal-setting.  Looked at email again. Checked what was going on over at Hootsuite, and tweeted my Tumblr prompt of the day.

Only after all that did it occur to me that I was farting around.  But that morning, instead of beating myself up about it, which generally leads to more farting around in a rather rebellious teenage, you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do-way (and yes, I do know I'm rebelling against myself), I paid attention to the conditions that led to this disorganized state.

I'd had a lot going on over the weekend, and didn't take time to clear the decks.  As I greeted the day, I had a gazillion tabs, including both email inboxes, open.  I had a to-do list with lots of left over items on it, and as I sipped coffee, I added more.  My desk was a mess, covered with the afore-mentioned to-do lists, a new calendar and journal to be made into a bullet journal, a notebook full of goal work, mailing envelopes to send books off in, and Christmas lists of presents I still need to buy.

So is it any wonder that my mind was just as messy as my surroundings?  Gee-sus.

My morning routine is theoretically that I go right to the computer and work on my novel.  Most days this happens.  But sometimes it doesn't.  On the days it happens, I'm happy.  And all day long the world flows around me peacefully.  Or even if it doesn't, I can handle things with aplomb.  And when I don't, I feel edgy and off all day.  Which is understandable–I've started the day with a massive fail.

So, I dunno the answer.  Because my early morning writing hours are often the only time I have to work on fiction.  And they are also the time when I think about it best.  But sometimes it seems like I need a lead-in, like morning pages for instance.  (I did them for years.)  On the other hand, if I spend time doing morning pages, then I have less time to work on my novel.  But on the other other hand, if morning pages would lead me into my writing, then working on them would be time well spent.

Many, many people (myself included) have written about the benefits of a morning routine, doing such things as yoga, meditating, or whatever.  And that appeals to me, yes it does.  But it also brings up the same problem: if I do yoga or meditate first thing, there goes my time to write.

Sigh.  Here's what I do know: I need to get into the habit of closing down distracting tabs and inboxes before I go to bed, so that all that is open is the one lovely file containing my rewrite.  I guess that's a good start.  Or I could just blame it all on Christmas and call it good.

Am I the only one who obsesses about such things?  Do you have a morning routine?  Give me some ideas, please.

 Photo by reuben4eva.

0 thoughts on “Wednesday Within: How I Get Derailed (You, Too?)

  1. J.D.

    I am the only author who writes at night. I do an equal amount of farting around. I also leave my WIP open, so that I have to jump over if I get to my browser. Somewhere I read leave your WIP in the spot you wish to take up; read the last few paragraphs or the part you wish to work on and sleep with that in your head. In truth, I don’t know the answer. I’m sure we all work best when we’re excited about the work. Think about the next juicy section you wish to get to. And sometimes you just got to suck it up and go.

  2. Dyoung

    All while reading this post, I kept saying to myself…well dear Charolette- it IS Christmas after all….then I realized that can’t be the simple answer. Though it does seem to be part of the “farting around”….for me as well. Oh gosh for me as well. My morning starts with allowing myself fart around time….I have to, its necessary. I sip my coffee, read my emails, watch the today show, and check on my blog reading/writing. THEN I get to business with things I NEED to do. I won’t say when the switchover is…because most times one just runs into the other and I go back to farting around when I need to be getting “work” done. My work schedule is different almost every day. However- Mondays are usually all the same..as are Tuesdays….etc. so that helps. I have to have a flexible routine and can’t expect too much in one day unless I don’t have to work at all. (Insert wishing that writing WAS my work) #wishingiwasawriterprobz (that hash tag just seems appropriate right now)

  3. Charlotte Dixon

    I leave my WIP open, too. Problem is, I tend to leave a lot of other stuff open as well. I have this idea I’m going to never find the tabs I have open again. Yeah, I bookmark things, but I have so many bookmarks I can’t find anything. Someone told me Evernote can actually search bookmarks, so I’m thinking about signing up for it. And I’m pretty miserable at writing at night. My brain is too full up. I like your advice to suck it up and go. That’s what it all boils down to.

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    You do make a good point, which is that often the “farting around” is taking a break from the work. I was just doing some morning writing (Over 1K words down, yay) and suddenly my brain was full up and I clicked over here to respond to comments. And, I do tend to be very hard on myself. Thanks for pointing that out.

  5. J.D.

    I glanced at Evernote. I downloaded Notational Velocity for free instead. It’s very simple, has no impressive features. I use it only for my WIP. It opens with two windows. In the top are titles of my lists. In the bottom are the items on whatever list I click. I have a note cube at work. When something a character might say or some trait I should remember comes to me, I tear off a note and write it down. At home, I enter them into the manuscript or notational velocity. The ones I save on Notational Velocity I look at before I write. I’ve had it about a week. Jury is out but it is helpful. The sticky notes on my Mac are cluttered with everything under the sun. At least I can dedicate NV.

  6. Zan Marie

    Real life has been more than tough at the moment–practices for the church cantata, the usual Christmas whirl,and two deaths in the family. One was my oldest niece’s husband–all of 39. Needless to say, writing has been shelved for a bit. Hopefully, after Christmas I’ll have a spurt…That, or I’ll sleep for a week. Good luck, Charlotte!

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh goodness, I'm so sorry to hear of those deaths in the family, Zan Marie.  39 is way too young to die.  I hope things calm down and that you have a wonderful holiday.  Here's to a wonderful 2015!

  8. Dyoung

    Baby steps and awareness.

    Just like my blog….oh dear I had some crazy font on there that the ipad didn’t recognize as crazy. For all those who viewed since its inception, my apologies!

    Now…I’m off to make some quick and easy oookies! Tis the season!

  9. J.D.


  10. Zan Marie

    Thanks for the well wishes, Charlotte!

  11. Dyoung

    Yes. A blog.

  12. Charlotte Dixon

    I’m starting to use Evernote for organizing research and so on. I’ve never heard of Notational Velocity, too. It sounds pretty cool. And I am the queen of Post-it note. Love them! But my desk gets so cluttered with pieces of paper and spirals and notebooks that I’m trying to corral some of that stuff on Evernote.

  13. Charlotte Dixon

    Share the link, my dear! I’ve been there but I am not sure if others have. We want to come read your wonderful words!

  14. Dyoung

    Click on my name “Dyoung”


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