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.

Why I’ve been getting up at 6 a.m. lately

I’ve been getting up at 6 a.m. lately, for the last two or three weeks, to do something remarkable.

But before you think I’m just an “early bird” let me tell you that up until recently: 1) my ideal sleep scenario involved NO alarm clocks and waking up naturally, usually between 8:30 and 9, and, 2) after a fairly recent and excruciating bout of sleep deprivation à la new baby turned into toddler, …

… if you had had the audacity to suggest that I would get up at 6 a.m. for ANYTHING I would have reacted with revulsion.

So.

That said, here I am, pretty much daily — even on weekends! — getting up at 6 a.m. to WRITE.

And I LOVE it.

Love it!

How insane is that?

The Fear of Writing Has Turned Into a Fear of Not Writing

Today Isabel asked me to think back to what it was like before I was writing regularly, about what that was like. I almost cried. And a wave of fear went through my stomach.

See, the thing is, I’ve crossed a line.

It’s the invisible line between terror in the face of writing and terror at the thought of not writing.

How did that happen?

I mean, of course I know the answer (decision, commitment, regular and consistent action, accountability, passion, etc.) but How. Did. That. Happen?

It’s truly amazing.

Does It Really Matter?

But why, you may be asking, why, Jenna, does it really matter if you get up at 6 a.m. to write? Why not write at 9? Or 3 p.m.?

It does matter. At least to me.

  • It matters because when I start writing before I’ve entirely woken up, my inner critic is a LOT quieter. In fact, I hardly hear from him at all. And that makes my life SO much easier.
  • It matters because when I get up early to do my soul’s true work first, I feel a deep answer to the Powers That Be saying, “Here I am. I am doing my part.”
  • It matters because when I put my Big Dream FIRST in my day, I feel calm for the rest of the day. And that calm is highly addictive.
  • It matters because I’m showing myself, deep down, that I’ve reorganized my life around my passion for writing and I really, really mean it.

I don’t know if I’ll keep doing this — I think I will — but so far, it rocks as successful experiments go. I was inspired to try this by hearing about so many writers that get up so early to write. I figured they must know something I don’t.

Holy smokes, they were right!

Enough About Me

What about you? How are you making your Big Dream a priority in your life? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Warmly,

 Jenna

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