Summer, with its lazy afternoons and glorious nights, is challenging for me as a writer; not because of the distractions of sunshine, but because of changes to my routine with the appearance of three children who are suddenly on the scene all the time.
I don’t like to over-schedule the kids, especially during summer vacation. I believe in the importance of creativity that comes out of the eventual “boredom” of unscheduled free time. However, it is harder to get consistent writing done when they are around; plus they are growing up so fast, and I want to enjoy our summers together. My solution is to adopt a new schedule–waking up at 5:00 am to write.
Those who know me well, know this is a significant departure. I’m usually the one writing UNTIL 5:00am, preferring to delve into my fictional worlds under the cover of darkness. However, I’m learning that after a full day of 7, 9, and 11-year-old wrangling and mediation, I’m not able to be as productive into the wee hours of the morning.
In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield writes, “Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. ‘I write only when inspiration strikes,’ he replied. ‘Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.'”
Ultimately a writer has to write.
To try and carve out a few precious child-free hours, I have been getting up at 5, checking facebook/email/twitter while I brew my coffee, then sitting down to write for a few hours until familiar kid-clamoring triggers my shift in focus from fiction to family…somewhere around 8.
And so it goes.
It is not my favorite routine, but it’s allowing me to write and make progress.
I still try to set aside time during the day whenever I can, to get additional work done. I’ve had a few writing dates while the kids are with friends/family, and if the kids are otherwise engaged and not feuding with one another, I usually pull out my laptop to write or research.
I’m at the beginning of this next novel (we’ll call it MC); it’s the one I began a few years ago but set aside to work on The Supper Club. I’m enjoying the process of getting reacquainting with it, allowing that bookworld to fill the spaces of my brain and imagination. It’s at that terrifying and exhilarating stage of beginning, where there are more blank pages than written ones.
I also continue to write at night whenever possible and seldom get to bed before 1am. However, by making sure that I get a few hours to write each morning, I find that I’m happier heading into the day. There’s also less pressure at night to be productive; so when I do write after the kids get to bed, it’s bonus time–almost an indulgence.
We’ll see what happens when the kids go back to school and the schedule shifts once again, but this is the routine for now.
It hasn’t been easy to wake-up early, but when I slip out of bed and down the stairs into the kitchen, I try to be mindful of the good things: to appreciate the cool air of dawn, the clarity of early morning writing, the joy of a brighter kind of stillness in the house.
There is also the power and delight of a really good cup of coffee. 😉
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” ~ Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art