Tag Archives: first fruits

Crack of dawn

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Set my alarm for 4:40am this morning and actually managed to fight the urge to go back to bed. I’m a little groggy now at midday, but still happy for the effort.

I’ve written before about creativity being a somewhat finite resource, at least on a daily basis. The thing is, I’m not sure I really believe that. Yesterday I had a whole day of fairly repetitive, meticulous work, and when I got home I thought that the several hour block of time I had would be more than sufficient to write 1200 words .

I barely got to 250. My mind was mud. I was tired, and just not in the right head-space. Thankfully I was at least able to come to this realization quickly, rather than powering through which is my usual method for dealing with these problems. I got to bed at a reasonable hour, and woke up at an unreasonable one.

In terms of physical tiredness, it was probably about the same, at least until the first few swigs of my Venti Americano. But there’s something about my early morning brain that is just better able to string sentences together. Before another day of meticulous work, I spent my day happily typing away on my tablet and eating a cranberry-orange scone, and before I knew it I was comfortably over the 1200 word target.

Some of this may be due to the type of work. Most of my original composition is blog posts during the day. The majority of my evening time is given over to research, reading, and programming, which is a little less sensitive to my head-space. Perhaps if I built up the mental muscles again this late night timing wouldn’t be a problem, we all go through cycles of this, but I also think there’s something to the “first fruits” idea.

It’s easy to let work or the things we have to do be put ahead of the more creative projects we want to do. We think, sometimes rightly, that sleep is a more valuable resource than time, and that it’s better to have 8 hours sleep and to write in the evening, than six hours and to write in the morning. But it does make it easier to get through the more “worky” parts of my day when I know that I have also accomplished something toward my own goals. This may mean that when I get home all I’ll want to do is veg out and watch TV, but I still got something done.

There’s a saying, I think it’s from the UK, that “a change is as good as a rest.” Often this is said with irony, but in the case of this morning at least, it was quite true.

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First Fruits

It’s noon and already I’m exhausted.

The Bible talks a lot about “first fruits“, usually in the context of sacrifice. Give the Lord your first produce and he will fill your barns with plenty. I think this can be applied to how we spend our time as well, whether it is in quiet reflection, or in the pursuit of our passions.

My morning routine is pretty mundane. I have about 25-30 minutes to get dressed and get out the door before my 35-40 minute commute to work. About ten minutes of this is devoted to hitting my morning websites. I pick up Amazon’s free app of the day (none of which I have installed in the last few months), skim for page views on WordPress, see what randomness by friends are up to Facebook, stare at my e-mail without really doing anything, and contemplate buying a game on GOG that I will probably not have time to play (lately I’ve been good and not buying any).

My friend Brian, on the other hand, wakes up at 5:30 every morning and devotes about 40 minutes to doing his blog post (reading of which is another part of my morning routine). For both of us writing is a primary passion, and one that in Brian’s case to which he is devoting his “first fruits” of the day.

There are many things that distract of us from pursuing our passions. In my case I often have to straighten my office (which is a never-ending chore), or organize something on my computer before I “feel” comfortable enough to write. For some people it’s laundry or some other essential household chore. It’s not that these things don’t need to get done, but I am often expending my best hours of energy pursuing things that I could do in “zombie mode”.

What would it be like if the first thing I did every morning is write? (Well, maybe the second thing. I’m not as comfortable as Terry Jones with writing naked). I might have to get up a little earlier, or maybe only do it for ten minutes, but what’s waiting for me on the internet that is so much more important?

I don’t think it’s always about time, but more about spending your best creative hours doing some creating. I like to write at night which works for me sometimes, but also causes me to put off tasks if I am too tired. If writing is something I really want to be doing every day, shouldn’t I be doing it at a time that I know I will be awake and creative?

As a Christian there’s another thing I consider with regard to the first fruits of the day, time spent in prayer and “quiet time” with God, studying scripture or a devotional. I’ve rigged my netbook to startup Charles Spurgeon’s morning and evening every day, which worked for about a month but now I ignore it. Spending time in prayer in reflection can sometimes help me to have more energy for the day, or put my head in a place other than the mundane tasks of the day.

What bothers me is that I don’t do either of these things. I don’t give my best energy to God and my passions. I write when I am tired, and I talk to God mostly during weekly bible study or church. This is not to say that I’m getting nothing done, I’m actually a very productive writer, and I do feel like I am growing in my faith, even if it is at a bit of a slow pace.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately how my faith relates to my writing, even though my genre is not “christian fiction” and “first fruits” is something else I’m thinking about. I don’t know if this means I’m going to change my morning routine anytime soon, but I’m interested in seeing what effect that might have.

How about you? Has changing when you do something had an effect on the quality of your work or the quality of your faith?

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Filed under Faith + Life, Writing Goals