First thing in the morning, I’ll…
Which morning? I have six of them each day, functionally speaking. If we can agree to call it a morning whenever I wake up and have stuff to do for a few hours, to be followed by sleeping again. Rinse and repeat.
Why is this important? Because last year I discovered a reliable way to produce a lot of fiction. The catch? It only really works for me if I can wake up and jump into writing without distractions. Later in the day? Not so much. My inner editor gets in the way. And…my method worked very well. It was fun. I felt good about myself and my accomplishments. But mornings are important for other reasons–meaning I had to make some sacrifices.
You may now–as who wouldn’t?–picture an oddly slippery slate altar concealed within a primeval rainforest, in a green hollow well-encrusted with scattered bones (tending to the small, but some over-large and…you hope they were somehow distorted post-mortem, because otherwise…), the bones in various states of decay showing the site to be in regular use, but still–there’s something fuzzy about the air–it smells not of death, but not of life either–if the emptiness between galaxies had a scent? this might be it–and the sounds behind you may or may not be footsteps–then, once you step into the circle of my daily ritual, it becomes hard to see beyond the place of sacrifice. The place of death, and rebirth, and stories shouted into a void. A void that hungers for structure, but is eternally incapable of hewing to it for longer than a panicked heartbeat. Which may be your last. You are not certain the world you left behind is still there. Anywhere. You find yourself becoming hoarse as your measured words, your entreaties, your final appeals to reason…shade into screams. As my knife rises, and falls. All that you are becomes Anguish. Followed, natch, by lunch. And then editing, but that’s another story. No pun intended.
But it mostly wasn’t like that. My chief sacrifice? I had to shut myself off from my family for the first couple of hours each day.
And I’ve come to very much enjoy first-thing-in-the-morning playing with my daughter. My wife and I talk about all sorts of things. We plan. And, also? My productivity-enhancing regimen really worked better if I did it every day. Which made lots of weekend activities difficult to impossible. Or it meant I’d take Monday and Tuesday to get back up to speed. Up to me, right? Life’s all about making choices.
Well. I chose to spend my precious morning-time with my family when I could. And kept trying to get the sand out of my fiction-machine gears in some other way. I wrote, but slowly.
So I’m doing this ridiculous nap-every-four-hours thing. I’m spending the morning-time with my family. But once or twice a day, I’m also going to be waking up and going in to write. First thing I do. Well, after shutting off the alarm(s).
Will it work? I don’t know. I’m sleeping less than two hours out of every twenty-four. I feel good. I am soundly mocked by many. (Though truthfully I feel a little bit like a superhero and so don’t mind the gibes too much.)
But I’m just now getting my head clear of the sleep-fog that’s dogged my thoughts as I’ve moved into this strange new world of waking dreams. Just now about to discover whether I’ll be able to do…what I’ve always wanted to do. To write, a lot, without sacrificing family-time. (I’ll note here, parenthetically, that brains are awfully stupid organs–they’re unreliable and messy and ornery and won’t always do what I want.)
My first session under this new schedule will occur during a time-slice many of you would call “tomorrow morning.” Right now I’m going to do some editing. It’s tempting to do prep-work to make things easier later, but…no. I want to see what happens when I don’t. Then I’ll sleep. Then I’ll study a couple of subjects that interest me, then I’ll sleep again. Then I’ll spend family-time with family, and sleep again.
And then, finally…we’ll see how the writing goes. If it doesn’t flow well at first, I’ll tweak. I’ll try again.
I know: I’m nuts, and impractical, and also barefoot. But…you know…what if it works? Won’t that be cool? So why not try?
I’ll keep you posted. Have fun out there!