Taking advantage of the morning hours is crucial for writers who want to enjoy high levels of productivity.
Dawn is an indication of a new beginning. That’s when your past writerly sins are forgiven, and you have a chance to once more prove yourself and fulfill your creative dreams.
But this doesn’t happen automatically, and there’s a structured approach you can use to fill your mornings with creative inspiration.
You must have heard about “the golden hour,” and that “the first hour is the rudder of your day” and although these phrases are redolent of books like “The Secret” there is something to a regular morning ritual that’ll set you up for a productive writing session.
First, let’s cover a few of the morning productivity destroyers, and then we’ll move on to unusual habits you can add to your routine.
Things to avoid if you want to have a productive morning writing session
What you avoid doing is as important, if not more so, as what you do in the morning. The worst habits you can practice are the ones that dissipate your attention and put you in a negative state of mind even before you type your first word.
A productive writer’s mind is like a pond with a smooth surface, undisturbed by external stimuli. Once it swerves from its stable course, it’s hard to bring it back to an alpha wave state that’s so conducive to creativity.
So here’s a quick list of things to avoid first thing in the morning:
- Checking the news (a negativity-gushing fountain)
- Checking social media (a colorful stream of chaos and unpredictability)
- Checking your email (a waterfall of potential distractions and looming deadlines)
- Watching TV (ancient aliens, and fear-mongering)
- Waking up too late (because when you sit down to write late, the day’s obligations will already tug at your mental sleeve)
- Gorging on processed carbs (because they’ll cause an insulin spike that’ll soon lead to an energy-level crash)
Now that we got this out of the way let’s focus on the bright side and talk about morning writing accelerators.
The top morning habits of highly productive writers
1. Refreshing your brain with a gust of oxygen
Your brain is like a creative furnace, and it feeds off oxygen. That’s why if you slouch towards your desk in a semiconscious state right after waking up, you can’t expect to be at the top of your game.
When I wake up, the first thing I do is jump under an ice-cold shower. That’s right – a shockwave of freezing water is exactly what I need to feel alive. Next, I take twelve minutes to do mobility exercises that further help my body wake up.
Finally, I do six minutes of pranayama (a yogic breath control practice). After these three steps, I feel so fresh and energized that I’m ready to tackle any writing project.
2. Practicing mindfulness meditation for 10 to 20 minutes
Focus on your breath to further prime your mind for high productivity, and allow it to enter into a state of high concentration.
Set a timer, sit in a comfortable position, and allow your thoughts to come and go as you gently come back to the sensation of breath in your nostrils.
I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and after my morning session, my mind is primed for high performance mixed with the joy of living. And joy is something everyone needs more of.
3. Using psychological cues to get into a creative flow
There are many mental triggers you can adopt to tell your brain it’s time to sit down and do the work. It might be the smell of a fresh caffeinated brew, a burning candle, or even a special piece of clothing (like your creativity scarf).
Use these cues only when you’re about to start writing your beautiful words, and soon the connection between the trigger and writing will be established. Moreover, embrace the smooth power of music to achieve the state of flow. For me, Baroque classics work best, but it all depends on my mood.
4. Asking the Muse for inspiration
The first lines of Homer’s Odyssey go like this:
“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.”
If calling on the Muse was good enough for Homer, you’re damn right it’ll be good for you. Ask for some inspiration when you sit down to write, and let the magic happen.
5. Turning off your phone or putting it in plane mode
Have you ever had someone randomly call you while you were gracing your keyboard with strokes of creative genius? Yeah, me too.
To prevent this from happening, turn off your mobile, get your writing done, and only then allow its beeping and buzzing signals of sound and color to envelop you in a soft dopamine glow.
You may also start writing so early that no one would dare to call you at that time. In this way, you can slay your quota by 9:00 AM and be done with it. To further cut distractions, you can also use an app like Freedom or BlockSite to block certain sites during the morning hours.
6. Having an outline for your next writing project
You can do this the night before, so when you wake up nice and early, you won’t have to stare into a blank page.
If you get your outline ready a day before, you also give your subconscious mind (or “the committee of sleep” as Steinbeck called it), a chance to ruminate on your project while you’re in the embraces of Morpheus.
Humans operate in habitual patterns, and most of the stuff we do day-to-day is semi-automatic. Take advantage of that, pick a few of the habits described above and etch them into your brain.
To get a habit ingrained, you need to apply yourself for at least three weeks, after which your new habit won’t burn up too much willpower. In fact, you might start to enjoy it as now it will be associated with higher levels of productivity.
I wonder, do you have any structured approach you take each morning to be a more productive writer? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.