Establishing a morning writing routine is your key to writing more and making faster progress on your writing project. No, you don’t have to wait to be inspired to do quality writing. And, yes, even night owls and busy folks can make a morning writing routine work.
Why Write in the Morning?
1. Less Distraction
The morning is quiet. It’s before anyone else in the house is awake, before the street noise cranks up, before the electronic dings and pings of emails, texts, and Slack messages begin. It’s a silent time just for you to be alone with your words.
This is also before the day’s stress and distractions hit Play. You’re not yet caught in the chaos of getting kids ready for school, preparing for meetings or clocking in for your shift, and carrying on with all of the daily events that demand our concentration. You, and your pot of coffee, are fresh.
2. Less Decision Fatigue
Decision Fatigue is the psychological concept that the more decisions you make, the harder it becomes for your brain to make them. Think about how many decisions you truly make in a day—from what to wear, what to eat, how to respond to your coworker’s irritating email, whether to RSVP yes to the event, what to wear to said event, if should you stop wearing clothes altogether and go join a nudist colony...
After a full day of making big and small decisions puts you in mental overload, figuring out what your characters are going to do in a pivotal scene becomes that much more difficult.
3. Less Willpower Depletion
Willpower is your ability to resist temptation and delay gratification. After a full day of stress and decision-making—and resisting the urge to fake sick and leave work early so you can crawl in bed and watch your favorite show—your level of willpower is low. This depleted willpower can make sitting down to write seem that much less desirable and watching your favorite show that much more desirable. Under these conditions, it’s too easy to skip your writing session.
4. Less Guilt
Commuting snarls sour your mood, the kid’s practice runs late, your spouse cuts themself making dinner and blood is spurting everywhere and you have to drive them to the emergency room for stitches (or reattachment)... Life Things keep happening that cause you to miss your night writing time. Or perhaps it's decision fatigue and willpower depletion keeping you away from the keyboard.
Whatever the reason, the guilt and shame we can put on ourselves for not doing what we said we would adds up. Each missed writing session adds to this pressure until the only way we feel we can release it is to give up on our writing schedule, and perhaps writing entirely.
5. More Accomplishment
Marking writing off your to-do list first thing helps you avoid distractions, decision fatigue, willpower depletion, and guilt and feel accomplished. This will give you a more positive feeling about your writing project, and it may give you a jumpstart to feeling good about the rest of your day.
How to Make a Morning Writing Routine
1. Wake Up Earlier
But it doesn’t have to be that much earlier. If you are a night owl or you just know 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. isn’t going to happen, don’t try to force it. Try waking up just 30 minutes earlier.
This way, if you prefer to write in the evening or night, you can still do that. But, if Life Things happen and you are too tired when your usual writing time rolls around, you’ll know you at least got 30 minutes in that morning.
It is possible you may find you like getting up earlier and it won’t be as hard as you may expect. Then, you can try writing longer and getting up earlier. You may discover you do like getting out of bed at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.
2. Set a Designated Writing Time
Choose the time you will start writing every day. Writing at the same time will create consistency and a routine. Soon, writing will be a natural part of your morning, just like brushing your teeth (I hope).
3. Write and Only Write
Make the commitment to yourself that during your scheduled writing time, you will only focus on your writing. No checking the news. No watching the last ten minutes of the episode you fell asleep during the night before. No social media. During your designated writing time, you write.
4. Use a Timer for Focused Writing
One way to help you focus is to write using a timer. If you work best on a deadline, setting a timer will create a similar sense of urgency that can help you be more productive with the time and zone out the urge to distract.
Writing Accountability Coaching
Writing is often seen as something you do all by yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are struggling to make progress on your work in progress, Writing Accountability Coaching can be your answer.
In this type of author coaching, I work with writers to help them:
Establish writing routines and schedules that work for their real lives
Determine their writer’s blocks and obstacles and figure out solutions
Rewrite negative self-talk and limiting beliefs that keep them from the page
Set attainable writing goals and problem-solve how to reach them
We meet once per week to check in and address any obstacles. Then I reach out to you throughout the week to make sure you are getting your words in.
If you are the kind of person who can’t finish a project unless you have a deadline (🙋♀️), this kind of interactive assistance is for you.
Erin Servais is the founder and managing editor of Dot & Dash, where she and the team provide author coaching, book editing, and sensitivity reading services to women authors.
Dot & Dash empowers writers through positive-minded and collaborative author services, giving you the trusted guidance to go from outlines and ideas to polished and published.
To learn how we can help you reach The End, schedule a chat with Erin.