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Tips for transforming into a morning writer...?

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Any tips? 


People often confuse this type of question as one asking for advice on how to wake up earlier. That is not what I am asking, so if your answer is 'go to bed earlier,' or 'have the coffee ready when you wake up,' etc., please don't respond.


If I need to wake up, I can wake up just fine. What I struggle with is being productive during the hours of, say, 6-8 am. I'd like to change that. I'd like to begin producing more work, but I often find myself wasting a lot of afternoon time, and I can no longer work past 9-10 at night like I used to as an undergrad. I just find that whatever I write after about 9ish pm is usually junk. Following all this, it has become apparent to me that I need to start taking advantage of the early morning hours, but I am not very good at it. 



Edited by objectivityofcontradiction
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For me, it's music. I like to put on something like Haydn Symphony No. 94, Beethoven's 9th, or Mahler's 9th (or even electronic music like Tycho's Past is Prologue album) and start crackin' away with a cup of coffee in hand. I would ask if you think that it's the time (morning), or if it's other habits that allow you to be distracted during that time. For example, what do you do when you get up? I bet you check your e-mail, maybe Facebook, fantasy draft, blah blah. You may not realize how much of a distraction the internet is, but you might try unplugging the internet and putting on some music. 


Since it's hard for you to write at 9pm (understandable), you might use that time to make a list of what you need to get the next morning. That way, when you wake up you have a game plan - turn on the music, unplug the internet, and get to work. If you need the internet for articles or something, try to get them the night before, at least. Or, you could have a lap top in another room that is online for quick googles. 


Hope this helps. My apologies if you were expecting more brain busting info, but this helped me.

Edited by DigDeep
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I use a timer to start stuff when I really don't want to. A big part of writing is just overcoming your unwillingness to get a first draft out there so you can start editing (at least in my experience). It's easy to do anything for 15 minutes, even if you don't think it will work, if you've promised yourself you'll only do it that set amount of time.


I use a pomodoro timer app for my phone but there are a lot of timers out there, dedicated and not, for what you need (e.g. maybe you need to stay off your phone to write).

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Well, if you already are awake at these times, this is what I do:

  • Shower first thing so that you start off refreshed. A lot of people get some of their best thinking out in the shower.
  • Sit down with a coffee and nice breakfast at a workstation free of distraction. I usually clean off a spot on my table the night before.
  • Have a list of things you want to get done before 8. For example: Read X paper and summarize their points on Y, or Write 1 page of methods for Z study I'm currently working on. Be realistic about what you can get done in that amount of time. It's harder to stick with something if you feel like you're never completing the entire task.
  • Start in smaller bursts. Maybe 30 minutes of writing, 30 minutes of relaxing, and repeat. Eventually, you can get it to 50 minutes of writing and 10 minutes of relaxing per hour burst (or 2 straight hours if you want).

Last bit of advice here: If you're not a "morning person", don't try to force yourself to be. Find 2 hours in your afternoon, where you could be more alert and productive. Take the tasks that you might normally do in that time frame, and move those to the earlier hours. These could be laundry, paying pills, sorting references in a citation manager. Anything that could be moved to another time, but requires less brain power than actually writing. You can use those free hours for writing, and get more done in that time frame too.

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I can't write in the morning. I've tried for maybe 7 years and now I just accept it. I do other things in the morning: organize notes, make outlines, prep for teaching, grade papers, re-read something I've already written for edits/changes, but I very rarely produce new text in the morning, regardless of when I wake up. One thing that helps with productivity, for me, is to have a set morning routine I do before I start working. Mine is wake up, walk dog, short workout (10-25 minutes), eat breakfast, then sit down for work. But still, I don't usually write in the morning. I get what you're saying about having trouble writing at night but, for me, I just shifted the stuff I usually put off (teaching prep, grading, editing) into the morning so I can work a solid 8-9 hours per day without having to work past 9 or 10pm, which has become increasingly important to me over the years.

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Not going to sleep until after noon?

Theoretically, people can change their habits if they put some effort into it. Writer's block is less about being blocked than about outside stresses interfering with one's writing. I have ADHD. Habit is pretty much the shiny key to control city.

The first step is to create a space that is for writing only. No web surfing, no reading, no noshing, no music, no TV. Yeah, a lot of people write to music and other stuff, but this isn't about productivity, but about altering a mental habit. Get the hind-brain to recognize that this is writing space and writing space only. It does help ward off the squirmies and the can't-writes. It's like an insomniac doing nothing in bed but sleeping helps them learn to sleep.

The next step is to create a pre-writing routine. Before writing, I make myself a cup of herbal tea in a particular cup, do a couple salutation to the sun cycles, put on my writing clothes, enter my writing space, shut the door, and prepare the desk. Paper for notes here, pen there, cup of tea over there, pull the two or three books I will be immediately working with there, open my research-only browser (I have browsers for various tasks) and open the most likely document or database that I would be working with, turn on the fan, open the word processor, and review my previous paragraphs or outline.

The next step is to write. If I were changing my writing stuff up (I'm not dependent on time, so it would be about changing my space or routine), I would start with an academic journal. I would write for a minimum amount of time about whatever came into my head regarding my current academic situation. I've written three pages that started with I am currently taking British Literature. I don't know why. And then a lengthy discussion about how I signed up for the course (a sort of step-by-step process with a review of my discussion with my adviser), and ending with what I'm going to try to get out of the course. Some days I write poetry. I have many limericks discussing quizzes. They're horrible limericks. I've got an attempt at turning Beowulf into a limerick cycle. It is not pretty. Anyway, the point is to write, not to try to write for courses or other things that will be seen by others, other than a blog or something. Because I have ADHD, I separate my creative and my academic writing, otherwise, I'd never get my academic writing done.

Anyway, establishing a very specific, ordered habit can get you into a headspace where you can write whenever you choose. It's just a matter of getting the body to recognize what you want it to do so it can go along with you. Right now, the body recognizes the morning routine and rebels against changing it. So, yeah.

I learned this from Hank Haney, golf guru to the stars. Well, more like watching Hank Haney try to fix Charles Barkley's golf swing. So much fail.

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Enter a sort of reverse "cram" mode: schedule all of your leisure activities and other extracurriculars in the hours that you'd normally be cramming, so you will be forced to get work done in the hours that you normally don't.

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I agree with the pre-writing routine.


When I'm in periods where every day needs to be extremely productive, I wake up, have tea and "pre-breakfast", and limit myself to watching one tv show in the morning.  I know myself well enough that if I continue reading a book (my other relaxation method of choice), I won't be able to stop.  A TV show episode works for me, because after 43 minutes, it's over.


Maybe find something like that for you?

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