A few months ago, my husband and I began a nightly ritual. He set an alarm on his phone for 8:00 pm. At that time, he would find me in the house, wherever I was, and ask if I had done any writing that day. It could be any type of writing — something formal for my blog, or an informal quick capture of my thoughts in my journal — but the intent was to hold me accountable to a commitment I had made to myself.
Last night he asked, “Can I turn off that alarm on my phone for 8:00 pm every day?”
I asked him why he would want to do that.
He shrugged and replied “Well most days the answer is no, so I figure writing must not be that important to you.”
I was pretty hurt by that comment.
I told him that I am trying so hard to figure out how to fit writing into my day. Between three active kids, a full time job, taking care of myself in other ways like yoga, and the desire for sleep, finding a consistent time has been tricky. But I keep trying, and eventually the groove will become so well-worn that it is a natural part of my day.
The Daylight Savings Time change really threw me for a loop a few weeks ago. My body had settled into a rhythm of waking around 5:30 am every day. I savored the quiet of the house. And even if the toddler woke shortly after 6:00 am, I could usually still sit at the kitchen table with my Surface while she ate breakfast, tuning out her babbles to herself. Somehow, that one hour change completely messed me up. My body would wake at the time that it thought was 5:30 am, but instead it was 6:30 — costing me my precious morning hour. And I hate alarm clocks and won’t use them (unless I need to be somewhere like an airport).
But I have been steadily inching back toward the 5:30 wakeup time. I also found that I crave hot liquids in the morning. Because I have always been a one-to-two-cups-of-coffee-per-day person, more than that makes me jittery. So instead, I fill two cups in the morning. One is my coffee with straight heavy cream, the way I like to drink it. The other is a cup of hot water with honey and lemon. The hot water sits and cools while I drink the coffee and by the time I am finished with that cup, I am ready for the second cup and the liquid is temperate.
As I have slowly been waking earlier and earlier each day, I gather the materials that I believe will make the most of that time to myself: my journal, a book of something that I can read in a start-and-stop fashion, like poetry (currently Daily Rituals by Mason Currey), and my Surface.
While I drink my coffee, I write in my journal, bullet-fashion, capturing the previous day’s activities. I read a few pages of the book, usually no more than five minutes. And then I write something.
Occasionally, this ritual fails. Kids wake up earlier or I sleep later than I had planned. Or I become distracted by something else and before I know it, my time is gone. I’m working on that.
Going back to my husband’s comment that he wanted to stop asking me about my daily writing, I said:
Please don’t give up on me. I will get there.
I told him that asking me every day shows me that he cares that I work on my writing. That he knows that it is important to me, and that he will continue to encourage me.
It was 8:45 pm last night, but I sent him a text message. He was working in his office so I didn’t want to barge in. I had set a timer, found myself a prompt on the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints Twitter handle, and wrote for five minutes, by hand, in a notebook.
My text to my husband read: “I finished my writing today.”