I am a better person when I write in the morning. Generally speaking, I am not in the least a morning person, but when I write in the morning, it gives me the confidence boost I need to make the rest of the day look instantly more appealing. This I discovered when laboriously ploughing through my recent writing endeavors. Though I had every intention to do the same thing as I did with my first novel—i.e. get up every morning at 8am so I could start writing for exactly one hour (sometimes longer, if I was in the flow) at 9am—my writerly discipline seems to have dwindled considerably during the past few months. Bad me. I have, however, been writing. The past week, however, I found myself (a) not getting up on time, but nevertheless (b) picking up my laptop at a random hour during the day, and writing until I hit the 1k limit. This is one of many methods to keep your writerly discipline, and one I had ditched in favor of the one-hour-a-day method, but this one seems to work better for me at the moment. When on a given day I decided to begin my day with a writing spree, however, I discovered that there’s a marked difference. And I have concluded that the writing-first-thing-in-the-morning method might be the one which suits me best after all.
‘Matutinal’ is a formal word according to my dictionary, simply meaning ‘of, or in the morning.’ It derives from the Latin word ‘matutinalis’ (‘pertaining to morning’), which in turn derives its name from a female divinity called ‘Matuta,’ the Roman goddess of dawn. Her name, in turn, might be a derivation from the adjective ‘maturus,’ meaning ‘early.’ Wikipedia furthermore informs me that ‘Mater Matuta’ was actually an indigenous Latin goddess, who was eventually conflated with the dawn goddess Aurora, and the Greek goddess Eos, whom some of you might know from Homer (she’s the ‘rosy-fingered’ goddess of the dawn). There were, after all, a lot of gods and goddesses to go around back in the day, even (or maybe particularly) a couple for the most hateful moment of the day.
I repeat: I am not a morning person. I do have some discipline, and throughout the school year, when I have a more or less regular rhythm, I do get up at a regular hour (even if I don’t have class until the afternoon) to do potentially useful things. When I know that I don’t have to, though—on weekends, for example—I am the laziest of lazybones, and I usually spend most matutinal hours in bed. I don’t yet make it a habit to get up after 12pm, but I’m getting pretty close. And then I usually only get up because my bladder is full and I have to pee, after which a grudging breakfast follows, and then more unproductive hours loitering in my pajamas before I get dressed. My life is so exciting.
Mornings—and getting up—are just not my strong suit. First there’s the stumbling-out-of-bed bit, which these days involves me glaring at my alarm clock when I see how very late in the morning it already is, and then a slouching pilgrimage to the bathroom. Then there’s the matutinal wee, and the slouching pilgrimage downstairs, where I make my breakfast (the same every morning, except on Sundays). On productive days, I go back upstairs after that to wash the sleep out of my eyes, get dressed, and brush my teeth. After that, I start up my computer for the daily checkup of my emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (there are so many things to keep track of these days). All this usually takes up a bit less than an hour (depending on how demanding social media are being today).
For times when I’m not writing, this is about the extent of my matutinal ritual; after that the daily humdrum of school and other obligations wheezes into being like an old, coughing, blubbering seal. For times when I am writing, however, I turn off Facebook strictly at the turn of the hour, I open whatever story I was working on (or an entirely virginal blank page), and I write. For an hour, usually. That is what I oblige myself to do. If it’s going well, and I’m in the flow, it can be longer than that (because it doesn’t happen often that you’re in the flow, and you need to grasp that chance when it arrives). Usually, though, it stops after one hour. It’s only one hour. It’s not like the amount of time Stephen King spends writing every day (four hours, I think?). But it makes all the difference for the rest of the day. Because yes, this morning I have been writing, and today I can rightfully call myself a writer, and even if very bad things are about to happen that day, in that matutinal moment of bliss, I feel invincible. It’s a feeling many writers know: in fact, many claim that they don’t so much enjoy the writing itself, but the feeling of ‘having written.’ Which I recognize very well, and I’m glad to be endorsed by my actually-published and famous peers.
It doesn’t always work, however, and recently I’ve been especially erratic in my writing habits. It comes in pangs, which is not a good sign, and it makes me feel shitty because this is how amateurs work (in bursts of inspiration). When I do write, though, it seems to happen usually not during the matutinal period, but rather in the afternoon. Which is remarkably different, because it appears not to give me half as much satisfaction as writing in the morning does. Because half the day’s already over then, and the possibility to feel great about the upcoming day is considerably diminished. Even though I write 1k every time, and don’t just go with whatever amount of words a single hour yields (which can be 1k, but might as well flicker at a meager 200 words), it simply doesn’t seem to do for my self esteem what writing in the morning does. And in that sense, I suppose, I might be a morning person. But don’t hold me to that.