The Four O’clock Challenge

Sometimes, I want to bang my head on the wall when I have bad ideas, especially when it impacts my sleeping time. For those of you who are working full-time while trying to publish books on a regular basis, it’s not only difficult… it’s a true circus act! And I’m not even talking when you have kids!

To give you an idea, I get up at five to go to work, write during my lunch break, get back to the office until four p.m. and then return home to go write again, after a quick stop at the gym or grocery store. And then, back in front of my laptop, typing away.

Anyway, I was in the middle of Nanowrimo, and I don’t know if you’re like me, but the words were not flowing as easily or as fast as I would have liked. Okay, I can be a bit impatient. See! I can even admit it. But I can also be competitive. So, I looked at my schedule to try to find any sliver to write and couldn’t see any more free time! No way I would stop going to the gym! I’m in a sitting position all day long. If I don’t exercise, I start walking like an old lady who had an encounter with a bull!

The only remaining slot was in the morning. And I mean EARLY morning. What if I got up at 4 a.m.? It would give me an extra hour on my work in progress. An amazing idea! Well, it was until I decided to do it and my alarm actually got off in the middle of the friggin’ night!! There is no word to express how I felt at that moment. I think that if my house had been on actual fire, with firefighters bashing through my door, it wouldn’t have budged. Imagine that annoying ring tone of my alarm clock.

I’m not, and I mean NOT, a morning person. For work, I can do it, but for my own personal goals? I’m sad to say that all my bones in my body would turn lazy.

So, for many days, my alarm would go off, I would wake up and reset it to 5 a.m. and hide back under the blankets for an extra hour of blissful unconsciousness.

The thing is, I was still behind with my writing. That made me think. Why could I dedicate time faithfully and without skipping to external people or things but not to myself.

That thought nagged me for a long time until I decided that I was important too. Sleep is important, I can testify, but my books are an essential part of my life. That’s when I decided to try something.

I could have gone all military and decide to drag myself every single morning of the work week, kicking and screaming. But the idea made me wince. Instead, I chose to do it when I was able to get to bed at a decent hour the night before. If I could get to bed early and sleep well, I would get up at 4. If I couldn’t get to bed early for whatever reason, or I suffered from bouts of insomnia, I would skip the dreadful alarm.

And what was the most difficult part? Being honest with myself. And don’t play games, because this writer is a pro at it!

So you want to know the final result? I did follow through. And I surprised myself. And my writing goes well… I’m so happy when I’m done with my morning routine and I see my word count, because I know it represents an extra scene or chapter in my book.

Bottom line, I realized that I need to think of myself, of what matters to me. If you’re like me, you’re a YES kind of person, which stuffs her schedule to no end. I’m better at saying no. But this whole experiment helped me feel less guilty about it. Who I am, what I do, what I love… all of me is important too.

I’m getting to bed now. More writing to do in the morning 🙂

India X