Early to Rise

By , December 7, 2012

Our nearest neighbor is a singer/songwriter (paid link). An off-hand comment he once made on his creative process has had a very positive affect on my family and me. The key: “early to rise.”

He told us that he’d begun making an effort to get up a little earlier than his usual time and going straight to work. He said that moving as directly as possible from sleep to work engaged his creative mind, and allowed him to maintain and utilize the deeper, less-conscious thinking he’d engaged in as he awoke. He made sure not to listen to the radio, or take time to read, or do anything else that might distract him. This “subconscious” thinking, uncluttered by distractions, improved the quality of his work considerably.

Aly adopted this practice when she went to college. Her course work includes a heavy writing load, so she schedules those assignments for first thing in the morning. She reported excellent results, and has continued the practice in her current year.

homestead workspace

Burning the early morning oil (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I’ve done this fairly often since that first conversation. I sometimes allow myself a little bit of a distraction: since I’m not writing songs, I play a little Mozart some mornings. I usually get up fairly early anyway, even as the days turn darker, tempting us to sleep a little later. I don’t always get right to work though; when I don’t, I can tell the difference.

It’s not easy getting right to work in a home where so much must be done upon rising, including cleaning the wood stove glass and making up the fire. (Thank goodness there are no cows to milk!) I do take care of business first, careful to keep my mind on the same thoughts and ideas I had upon waking.

The hard part, for me, is the medium. Since most of my writing efforts are focused on this blog, the task involves going on line. The Internet may be the greatest weapon of mass distraction human beings will ever devise, so logging on is, for me, a productivity disaster. To avoid the temptation, I often compose my work off line, then cut and paste later.

My friend’s technique is common to the point of being overly obvious. Many, many famous writers and composers schedule their days around a morning writing session. But, I hadn’t really thought about it until my friend pointed out the advantages of “early to rise.”

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