Before my son was born, I would do my writing first thing in the day: before showering, before email, cradling a hot cup of coffee. I didn’t have any rituals beyond trying not to do any other tasks beforehand — except for the coffee, of course. Because I was up before the workday, I didn’t feel any pressure to engage with the outside world (unless, of course, I was hopelessly distracted and looking for a diversion).
I still write in the mornings, but it ends up being much, much later, typically after he’s woken up far earlier than I’d like, we’ve played together quietly, eaten breakfast, I’ve skimmed half of one article from the paper, and have taken him to daycare. It’s very difficult, at that point, not to think about checking email, reading more of the paper, doing paid work, and so on, and I’m beginning to think it would help if I worked harder to define the time.
We’ve just bought him a clock that’s supposed to help my son learn when to get up in the morning (when you see the stars, it’s time to sleep; when you see the sun, you wake up). It sounds, well, infantile, but I’ve heard that it works wonders. And I wonder if something similarly simplistic might not help me define my time for writing. I can tell myself that, when I sit down at my desk around 9:00, I’m going to write for the next hour, but what if I was more formal about it, and clocked myself in and out?
I don’t know. It’s a bunch of clever tricks, I suppose, but somehow, progress must be made.
How do you define time for writing?