They say it takes an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become habit. I’m on day seven. Bugger.
I won’t tell a lie: today was hard. Hard like yesterday, but harder. Day Seven: Day Harder. (I’m going to stop now, while you’re not quite sure whether I’m going for euphemisms or painfully forced movie puns).
There was more disorientation before I woke up today: the strangest sense of dreaming but still being awake. Perhaps this is me beginning to adjust to the slightly earlier time – the Jekyll half of me struggling to wake in readiness; the Hyde half telling to stay asleep. I’ve kept my alarm at 6:30am for now as it looks like I might need longer than a few days to adjust. When the alarm went off today I was more tempted even than yesterday to stay in bed. It wasn’t the cold or the dark: I simply wasn’t ready to be awake and out of bed. My mind was fuzzy, my body wasn’t interested in moving, my eyelids weighed a few more tonnes than they did yesterday morning.
But I got up anyway. Once again there really wasn’t any question of staying in bed. I have a feeling that staying in bed for just one morning will break the whole routine in its infancy. I need to get to the point where getting up early is ‘what I do’, as much a part of my morning as having a coffee. As the cliche goes: failure is not an option.
I probably got even less writing done than yesterday (quick check: a 520 word chunk). As I said yesterday I’m editing a first-draft section that needs a fair bit of restructuring, which could account for the slow pace. It was also harder going: there were more blank moments than yesterday morning, longer periods of mental silence where I had to wait for the words to start coming.
Once again, 523 words edited is better than no words edited. One thing I’m not sure of is whether the quality of my writing is any better. That’s pretty hard to judge. What I do know is that writing more regularly (i.e. almost every day) will only benefit my writing. Writing first thing seems to be less of a struggle than writing at the end of the day.
Some observations from today (and the last few days).
First is that I appear to be reaching a natural stopping point at about 7:30am. Conveniently this is the time that I set down to stop writing and start getting ready for the rest of the day. I had been worried that I’d want to continue writing, that stopping once I’d gotten going would be infuriating, but so far it’s not been a problem.
Second is that I no longer get to work and need to get a coffee before anything gets done: in fact I don’t even get a coffee any more. There are probably two reasons for this. One is that I’ve already had a pot of coffee, so my caffeine addiction has been sated. Another is that my day has already started: the ritual of getting coffee has been rescheduled, I’ve already kicked myself into gear and begun to tackle the day. It’s a subtle change, and wasn’t one of my goals, but I’m not going to complain about getting to work a little fresher and ready to get on with things.
Third is something that I was worried about from way before I seriously considered changing my routine and probably the one thing that kept me from doing it sooner: how would I feel in the evenings if I started getting up significantly earlier? I certainly didn’t want to ruin my evenings, and I didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s evening from being overtired and grumpy.
Well, so far I’ve not noticed a profound difference. I do feel tired, but I’m usually ready to collapse on the nearest comfortable sofa by 9pm anyway (I’m a lazy sort), so no difference there. It may be my imagination but it feels like a better sort of tired. Whether this is due to the satisfaction of having managed to do some writing, or not having the pressure of needing to do some writing, or just from being genuinely sleepy-tired I’m not sure. It’s probably a bit of all three (let’s hedge our bets there).
So there’s only one change in the plan so far: my long term goal of rising at 5:45 (and potentially doing 90 minutes of writing in the morning) is still out there, but with no firm target date in mind. I’m going to stick to 6:30am for at least the next few days and then go ten minutes earlier when I feel ready. At the moment I’m still getting an easy 45 minutes of writing done each morning which, given my traditional progress, is spectacular.
More tomorrow. Once I’ve caught up on my sssssleep …