While I always cherished my early mornings alone, until this year I never fully took advantage of them. There was puttering around to make tea, checking email and social media, even making sure the world didn’t blow up over night. If I was lucky I might then get to the work I woke up early to do. To be perfectly honest, my early mornings made me more cranky than relaxed. Then I heard four small words that changed everything:
Those four words changed everything. The next day I turned my alarm off on my phone and simply got out of bed, leaving my phone on the nightstand. I did not look at it at all! I went straight into my sewing room, a space I am lucky to have in our small house, clicked on my sewing machine, grabbed the scraps sitting there and just sewed for 15 minutes. No tea, no shower, no Facebook, no radio, no nothing but me and my creative act. The next day I did the same thing. The day after that I wrote a haiku first thing. What?!
Within a week it was a new habit—the easiest habit I’ve ever established. I call it my Morning Make.
Tips for Creating Before You Consume
- Set your alarm 15 minutes early and actually get out of bed.
- Leave the phone behind when you create. Remove the temptation entirely.
- Not everyone is a morning person. If it has to be after lunch or the kids’ bedtime, go straight into the creative act.
- Set yourself up in advance. Know what you are going to do before you start so you don’t spend your time prepping instead of creating. For me, this means having the fabric ready to go for sewing. Or a clean table with a good pen ready.
- Try different mediums. Take a walk with your camera, invest time in a sketchbook series, or experiment with writing exercises.
- This is the time to play; it shouldn’t be your work. But if it has to be work, make it a fun part of the process.
- If necessary, set a timer. It can be easy to “get in the zone” and go longer. Not generally a big deal, but sometimes we have deadlines or the need to get kids to school or a nine-to-five job that can’t be ignored.
- Consider a project or process that is just for this time—something you only do for your Morning Make.
- Delay the caffeine and the workout, just for those 15 minutes.
Second, I am calmer. Even my kids notice that if I get my time in the morning we all have a better day. Of course, not every day do they sleep in enough, so we end up creating together. Now they are drawn to coloring, sketching, and crafting first thing more than anything.
Third, I’ve gone back to creative pursuits pushed aside for lack of time or just the right moment. I am a writer and make a small living that way. Working on fiction, however, is not generally a moneymaking venture so it always loses in the competition for my time. Now I devote one or two of my Morning Makes a week to fiction writing. I am re-energized and the words are flowing.
It is a long way from my time in the water. Life is full of challenges and more demands on my time than the time I actually have. If it weren’t for my Morning Make, I wouldn’t be thriving in the midst of it all. It is the moment when I am purely me, in the moment, fueling myself in a way that nothing else can.
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