Intriguing side effects of getting up at o’ dark hundred

A few weeks ago, I wrote about getting up at 6 a.m. to write. I’ve continued with the experiment and I’ve been enjoying the results very much.

I’ve been surprised to notice a number of interesting side effects:

I feel better rested.

I’ve been going to sleep no later than 10 p.m. if I can possibly help it, and usually more like 9 or 9:30 p.m. I’ve read that you get the most regenerative sleep between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., and I’m finding that it is true.

I’m using my time much more wisely.

Something I’ve struggled with over the past year in particular is how I use my time in the evenings.

I was watching shows on streaming video… and then watching just “one more” until the evening was gone and it was far too late. Or obsessively playing iPhone games or looking at things online.

I felt like an out of control addict who was doing unhealthy things in the name of having “alone time.”

Instead, now I reward myself with little nibbles of these formerly addictive devices when I complete a task, and it doesn’t stop me from being efficient and effective. If anything I feel more effective because I’m enjoying these little breaks as true play.

I feel calm.

In part this is due to Just. Doing. The. Writing., but I believe it also has to do with doing it so EARLY.

Getting up at 6 not only demonstrates my commitment to myself and to my writing, but also helps me get it done. Instead of having it hanging over my head for an entire day (“When am I going to fit it in?”), which makes me feel incredibly guilty, I feel at peace when I do it first.

It’s like I’m saying, “I’ve done my hardest work. Now, what else is there?”

I feel happy.

A big part of feeling happy is the result of actively working to fulfill my calling as a writer.

But there’s also a kind of freedom and joy that comes from doing it first that is highly compelling.

Contrary to how it might appear from the outside, writing triggers a huge amount of fear for me, so facing it first (while still half asleep, I might add), creates such a huge sense of relief that happiness seems to rush in and fill the void.

How cool is that?

Your Turn

What does this inspire for you? Let us know on the blog.

 

 Jenna

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What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Writing in the ProSeries class at ScreenwritingU.

~> Daily and especially Fridays. Sacred writing time. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Enjoying time off with my family.

Comments

  1. It’s true that I also feel better when I go to bed by 10. I just got a new computer just for writing..my blog and some columns. But I haven’t gotten time for either yet. Maybe now I will. I am inspired. I will write on the blog now,even one paragraph. Comments: patwesty@wordpress.com

  2. Jenna

    This week I’ve been staying until 1:30 am. Usually, I’m in bed by 11:30. I have to say that staying up that late makes me feel groggy the next day.

    It’s a good idea to put your “want-to-do’s” at the start of your day before you get sucked into the other stuff. I developed some good habits in your writer’s circle. Even though it was a writer’s circle, I started drawing every day. And continue to do that. Just finished my second Degas inspired pastel. I have to say that anyone can draw if they learn to see and take the time to reinforce what they see through practice drawings. I’ve improved tremendously! And I’m writing a lot as well.

    g.

  3. Hi Jenna, it is good to see that this works for you. I find that getting up at that time, with the sun can naturally make the day feel fuller and richer. I am usually going to bed approaching that time, believing that it is good for the spirit to see the night through,

  4. Jenna,
    Thanks for the insight. Do you find it harder to work 1/2 asleep? I’m also curious if you’ve historically been a morning or night person and how this has affected your decision and new routine.
    Kris

    • No, it’s waaaaaaaaay easier to work while 1/2 awake. :)

      I have historically been a night person, I had actually weaned myself off using an alarm clock altogether and would just wake up naturally. Left to my own devices, I stay up until 11 or 12 and get up at 8:30 or 9.

      BUT, by the time I would then get to my writing (or whatever “hard” thing that was on my agenda for the day) my resistance levels were so high that I’d then go straight into full on procrastination mode.

      When I get up at 6, I just get right to it. There’s nothing else for it. The fear and doubt are a lot quieter. The rest of my day goes more smoothly. It’s just better all around. Oh, plus, I was wasting a bunch of time at night doing inane things. All in all, now my time feels much better used.

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