A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire
Getting Up Early, but Not to Write
Recently, I’ve settled into a productive writing routine. I have two hours to write if I drop my daughter off at school by 8 a.m. and save everything else for after my teaching job.
It’s lovely. And for some reason, I decided to mess with it.
First of all, I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Murikami is a long distance runner. In the book, he mentions that he wakes up at 5:00 every morning to run, then writes.
Hmm, I thought. I should do that.
Then, a friend won a first book award. She mentioned in an interview that she gets up early to write. Another friend-of-a-friend announced his plans to quit his job to focus on writing. “He’s very committed,” my friend said. “He wakes up every day at 4:00.”
That’s it, I decided. I’m getting up early tomorrow.
And get up early I did — at 2:30 am. My daughter was shining a flashlight in my face, whispering, “Juice, juice!” By the time I’d convinced her it wasn’t morning, it was 4:00. I didn’t get up to write. I went back to sleep.
The next night, this happened again. It happened every morning for four mornings.
Then, it didn’t. I woke up at 5:00. All was quiet. Today was my day. I quietly made coffee and settled in to write. Then, upstairs, I heard footsteps. Quick little footsteps which scurried to my bed, paused, and began to make their way down the stairs.
Ever since that day, Amelia has been waking up early–4:52, 5:35–no matter what, it’s early. So since then, I’ve been waking early too. Not to write. To get juice, to read stories, to play elaborate games involving parades and cowgirl hats. Or, when my husband gets up to do those things, I do what any sensible mother would do, and I stay in bed.
I told several friends about the problem. “I think the universe is telling me not to get up early to write,” I’d say. And I’d tell them about the convergence of all the early-morning people, whose stories had made me feel uncommitted to my writing.
“Those people don’t have children,” my friends would point out.
“Yeah,” I’d say. “But…”
I never managed to finish my thought. What did I want to say? But that shouldn’t matter. But I’m a morning person, and I love to write in the morning. But, I kept thinking to myself, I should be doing more.
Until, finally, I thought, why? Why should I be doing more, when I am teaching a class, raising a preschooler, and writing six hours a week? There are no “buts.” Those writers don’t have children. I do. And right now, I have a fun-loving early bird.
I don’t think this problem of always feeling the need to do more is limited to mothers who want to write. Most of us live with the fact that we only have so much time, most of it taken up by things we have to do.
And that’s okay.
I notice that when I feel anxious about spending time not writing, whether for chores like grocery shopping, or for fun things like having lunch with a friend, I am unhappy, rushed, and distracted. When I accept that my life is full and involves lots more than writing, I am happy, present, and calm. I actually like grocery shopping, anyway.
And though I won’t complain if she starts sleeping a little later, I like my happy mornings with Amelia.
Note: This post first appeared on Kimberly’s blog in March, 2013.
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