Over the years I’ve struggled to establish a regular writing routine. I was constantly adjusting my schedule to accommodate school, internships, and a variety of part-time jobs. But even once I settled into a full-time job with a steady schedule, my writing routine still faltered. I tried to squeeze time into lunch breaks and scheduled after-work writing sessions. But I couldn’t stay consistent for very long, some excuse or another always sidetracked me. I had a long list of excuses: needing a night out with friends, watching a favorite tv show, a distracting home environment, or simply being too tired. Finally, I realized if writing was important to me, I had to prioritize it by quite literally putting it first. I started a morning writing routine and have stuck with it for the last five years.
For me a morning writing routine is like ripping off a band-aid, it’s quick, easy, and fairly painless. That is compared to attempts to write later in the day, otherwise, I’d spend most of the day stressing about when or if I’ll get to write.
Here are five reasons why you should start a morning writing routine:
1. It’s quiet
How quiet your morning is will likely vary depending on where you live, who you live with and how early you get up. But generally, it’s going to be quieter in the morning compared to the middle of the afternoon or evening. You may be able to write with noise and think it won’t be much of a distraction. However, anything can become an excuse not to write. Why take the chance?
Besides, I’m not just talking about outside noise. For me, this applies to the noise inside my head too.
When I first wake up, I tend to have a much clearer mind. It hasn’t been bombarded with the millions of messages we receive daily through email, social media, television, etc. If you’re good about not checking your phone as soon as you wake up, you’ll be more likely to access whatever creative work has been bouncing around in your head.
2. Inner critics sleep late
Speaking of a quiet mind, I find myself being much less critical of my writing in the morning.
One of the major issues writers often face is their inner critic. That voice in their head that tells them everything they write is just awful and there’s no point in continuing if it’s not perfect. That voice sadly keeps many people from really committing themselves to their writing. Or they become stuck rewriting the same thing waiting for it to be perfect.
You have to be willing to write badly sometimes just to move forward.
Personally, I start writing while drinking my morning coffee and I need at least one cup in me before I’m fully functional. So maybe I’m just not awake enough to recognize how bad my writing is. Bad writing is still better than no writing. You can’t edit a blank page.
3. Avoid Decision Fatigue
Decision fatigue is the psychological term for the deterioration of our decision-making skills. It happens when we have too many choices and after having made many decisions.
The further into the day we get the more decisions we’ve had to make. The later in the day you wait to write the less likely you are to choose wisely. Even if you’ve scheduled your writing time, you still have to decide to follow through.
You may also face the decision of what to write. Later in the day, it will be harder to decide what to work on. Faced with that difficult decision, it becomes easier to just skip the writing session altogether.
4. Less likely to procrastinate
Writers like to joke about how the minute they sit down to write they suddenly see all the chores that need to be done. It’s not likely that first thing in the morning you’re going to do laundry, sweep and mop or clean out your refrigerator.
The most tempting form of procrastination will be your phone.
But, relating back to the concept of decision fatigue, it’s easier in the morning to choose wisely.
Most likely if you have a day job, you’re going to have a limited amount of time in the morning. Besides writing, you’re going to have to shower, eat breakfast, and all everything else to prepare for your workday. A limited amount of time might be just what you need to get yourself in gear. Think of how deadlines are often the most motivating force a writer can have.
5. It’s motivating
You know that satisfying feeling when you check something off your to-do list? Well, imagine being able to start your day by accomplishing something as important as writing.
I first started my morning writing routine doing morning pages, while reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I found myself going into my day job happier and less full of the usual dread. I also managed to squeeze in work on creative projects during lunch breaks and after work more often.
Eventually, with an established journaling practice as a part of my morning routine, it was easy to add time for creative work. When I started working on creative projects in the morning, I found it hard not to go back to my writing later in the day. I’d find myself continually thinking of a specific project or new ideas throughout the day. I started building the momentum to really get going and push past all the excuses.
Tell us in the comments: Do you have a morning writing routine?
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Alexis M. Collazo writes in a wide variety of styles, forms, and genres. She’s worked as a freelance writer, copywriter, and content marketing blogger. She is currently working on a memoir written in prose and poetry. After moving to Pennsylvania in 2016, she worked at the local public library where she led monthly writing workshops. In 2021, she was certified as an Amherst Writers and Artists workshop facilitator. She now leads online workshops and hosts write-in sessions, to see current or upcoming events visit www.alexismcollazo.com.