I have always been an early morning writer, thinker, grader, planner. At night, my brain is way too tired to do any sort of production, and can only consume–that’s my sacred time to read, watch TV, or mindlessly scroll through a news feed.
But the morning, after a cup of coffee or so, is when my brain likes to flex its muscles and get going.
I started this habit in high school, or possibly earlier. All I can recall is that once I began working at a diner after school when I was a sophomore, I didn’t want to do any homework once I got home. So I’d set my alarm for 5 am, do homework at the kitchen table in the early morning dark, get ready super fast, and beat my teacher into her homeroom to finish things up there.
This habit persisted into college, when I continued working jobs in the evening and on weekends, and instead arrived to King Library in the pre-dawn hours nearly every morning. I’d park my car on one of the dark tree-named streets in Oxford, trek to the library, and stake out a study carrel in which to complete my work in the hours before my 9 am classes began.
Again, I kept up my early morning productivity when I began teaching, rolling through the Starbucks drive-thru at 5:30 am sharp on my way to school, where I usually arrived around 6:15 so as to allot myself a full undisturbed hour of work time, with no copy room competition.
Even after baby arrived, I remained an early bird. I got some bonus sleep in since I didn’t have to be dressed and presentable anywhere, and could write at my desk in my pajamas at home for a few hours until my little nugget awoke.
But during this month, I have learned something: writing is hard.
Not just the cognitive act of producing something intelligible. I’m talking about making the time, finding the time, to get my butt in the chair (or bed, where I’m currently typing) to do the writing. It is hard to carve out that space every single day, weekday or weekend, holiday or not, school day or not.
I haven’t been able to fall back on my early morning productivity in order to write daily. Sometimes I have to use that time to plan for the classes I’m teaching. Sometimes I have to write a post for my other blog, Three Teachers Talk. Many times, this month in particular, baby is teething and is up all night and I just cannot drag myself out of bed for #5amwritersclub when I didn’t get Ruthie back to sleep until 4:15 am.
So, I’ve started late-night writing.
This is SO out of character for me. I have not, in at least 15 years, done something cognitively productive in the pm hours. This month, more than half of my posts have been published in the evenings, and several of them have been posted quite close to midnight. For someone who is usually asleep by 8 pm, this is absolutely mind-blowing.
Another strange habit I’ve developed is that I actually type things on my phone, if I’m on the go–like when I was out of town for Kristy’s wedding, and publish posts using the WordPress app. This is also super out of character, since I LOVE my MacBook Pro and feel like I can only write on it.
One other new writing habit is that I’ve had to jettison some things in order to fit writing time in–I have read fewer books, written fewer entries in my notebook, and watched fewer episodes of Netflix than I usually do in a given month, thanks to prioritizing writing. I can’t say that I think those are good things to have abandoned, necessarily, but they were the things I could sacrifice in order to write–unlike, say, taking care of my daughter.
So, thank you, Slice of Life challenge, for forcing me to develop some new writing habits. I didn’t know if I could write for 31 straight days, but I’ve made it 30 so far. After tomorrow, my goal will be to continue posting Tuesday slices, and hopefully more when I have something I’d like to write.
Let’s hope that will be yet another new writing habit I develop thanks to this challenge!