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My Trick for Writing

My Trick for Writing

Since I was seven, I’ve told people that I was a writer. I used that as a primary identification all through my formative years, and in High School, I was one of the top writers in my school. I loved it. I ate it up. And then?

I didn’t write much.

“Writer” can be a deadly noun. Well, any label can. If you label yourself a “runner,” and then wreck your ACL, are you still a runner? But writer seems to be especially tricky. That and “artist” and “poet” and anything that requires creativity and motivation to keep doing it.

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Before 9/11, I wrote 100% fiction. After 9/11, I somehow switched to 100% nonfiction. And then, I still didn’t write much. I blogged all the time. I wrote five or six or ten posts a day (still do, if you follow my various projects). And somehow, I never qualified it as writing.

My Trick for Writing

Blog. I’ve learned that the simple act of using a blog to store my writing gives me a lot more framework and structure. I write much better and more frequently into the blue and white of a WordPress template, or into the beauty known as Performancing than I ever do in MS Word or whatever we’re supposed to use on Macs.

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Start a private blog. Install a local copy of WordPress. Get in the habit of updating THAT blog with your single project (cough cough…book…cough cough). Trick yourself. Lie. Just say it’s blog posts. Go light on the URL links and the conversational tone (unless your book is conversational in tone). And just write in there.

Write for Money

One thing that sometimes helps spur writers on is money. In the old days the question was, “Are you published?” With sites like Lulu making self-publishing a good thing instead of a vanity, that’s not a hard question to answer. But, when people ask me about all the blogging I’m doing, they say, “Do you get paid?” Boy, it’s rough to feel so sheepish when I answer “Not in cash.”

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But then again, ProBlogger just announced a jobs board: http://jobs.problogger.net . So, if you wanted, you *could* get paid for blogging. I suppose there are other ways, but that just seems like an easy way to do it.

The Secret to Writing is… to Write

So whether you’re doing it for money or for passion and other intangibles, I think the secret to writing is to write. My trick to getting that done is using an interface that doesn’t make me think of writing as work. Maybe because I blog a few hours a day, this works.

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Would it work for you?

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Last Updated on December 30, 2018

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

This article is the 2nd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days.

If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

So how to become an early riser?

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Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

1. Choose to get up before you go to sleep

You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

No more! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before. Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

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Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

2. Have a plan for your extra time

Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day? If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed. You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

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3. Make rising early a social activity

While there’s obvious value in joining a Lifehack Challenge in order to get you started as an early riser, your internet buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

4. Don’t use an alarm that makes you angry

If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning? I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

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When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

5. Get your blood flowing right after waking

If you don’t have a neighbor you can pick fights with at 5am you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you. If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

More Resources for an Energetic Morning

Featured photo credit: Frank Vex via unsplash.com

Reference

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