Tag Archives: lifestyle

The wee hours

I’m up 40 minutes later than I meant to be.

To be fair, 5 in the morning is a terrible time to start the day, especially for someone who likes to be a night owl.

Problem is during the week morning is really the only time I can get certain things done, going for a walk, breakfast that’s not at my desk, and writing the blog.

I know my friend Brian writes in the morning, and I used to think he was nuts.

Actually I still do.

There is something to be said for some times being better than others. I used to write on my lunch break at work. The problem was that writing the blog became something that interceded into my thoughts during the whole morning, which could sometimes be disruptive to productivity. There were often interruptions, and even in the best of circumstances a cubicle is not the most creative of spaces.

I tried writing at night, which is actually my preferred time to work on projects like my book, but this always felt like it was cutting into time with my wife and time to relax.

So here I am at 5 in the morning, or this morning 5:40.

Thing is I kinda like doing something like this even though I can be miserable and tired until I get that first sip of coffee. I have this romantic vision of the writer that years of practical experience has yet to shake. I like the idea of staying up all night to work on a project, or going to a coffee shop in the wee hours of the morning, the few times one can be alone in a hectic lifestyle.

But in all those years in college when I stayed up til all hours of the night, I was never as productive as I am now, waking up at the ass crack of dawn. Something in my being fights the notion of driving to work and the dark, and arriving home in the same dark, but writing alone in the dark is somehow perfect.

It’s calm, and quiet, and though you wouldn’t know it from the boisterous fellow I am, I need that quiet time.

Time to write, think, pray, and give my time first thing in the morning to the thing I really want to be doing. It’s worth being tired later to have started the day right.

Now if only I can get to bed a little earlier…

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What’s In My Bag?

I always pack too much on trips. I was on a two day trip labor day weekend, most of which would be spent in the car or at a wedding.

Here’s what I packed (excluding clothing which I am surprisingly I pack very lightly):

– My netbook (adapter, mouse, mousepad)
– 6 flash drives totalling 180Gb of storage
– 3 physical books (2 thin, 1 medium for research)
– Zipped portfolio containing CDs, 5 pens, notepad, composition notebook, playing cards and a booklight)
– Digital camera (charger)
– A 3 outlet power strip and cigarette lighter power adapter
– My Kindle Touch (loaded with 6-7 albums, 4 This American Lifes, Apps and Games and my usual 1500+ books)
– Earbuds

Here’s what I used:
– Kindle Touch to write 6 blog posts, play Scrabble and listen to music (no TAL).
– Maybe 20 minutes research with 1 book, 2 pens, and the composition notebook.
– The Camera at the wedding.
– Power strip mainly to charge devices I had with me that I did not use.

I’ve traveled on long car rides all my life and I’m never realistic about what I’m actually going to do. Part of it is to give myself options, but many of the options I bring are unrealistic. Some may be becuse I am working on a lot of projects and think somehow I will work on them all. And I have gotten a lot of work done in the car (two weeks worth of blog posts ain’t too shabby).

But I think my dad’s got it right when he says I just like to travel around with my stuff. And it makes for a heavier load. Maybe someday I’ll realize the Kindle (or even less) is all I really need, but probably not for a while.

What stuff do you carry that you really don’t need? Why do you still ferry it around?

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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