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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I love this so much! It’s one of those things I’m pretty sure we all *know* about, and yet putting it into practice? So hard! With our summer holidays coming up soon, though, I’ve started getting up earlier when my husband does so that I can get into the habit of getting up before the kids do over the holidays! And yes, I’ve already noticed feeling calmer through the morning when I do.
Thank you so much for sharing this! I was a competitive swimmer for years , too, but with a little one waking me every few hours all night, mornings are tough. Still, what is 15 minutes? I’m going to try this, and I can absolutely see it having a positive impact on the whole family.
Brilliant! Can’t wait to put this morning make ritual into play. As I was reading your excellent article, a sense of calm came over me as I contemplated what starting the day with creativity instead of consumption would feel like – ahhh!
This is a great habit that I need to get back into. And, apparently, perfect timing for Alyse who is approaching summer holidays in AU, and I am appraoching winter holidays and shorter daylight hours. Thank you for writing this.
Beautifully written… Thanks for the inspiration!
Cheryl Arkison is an amazing person and an incredible teacher. I’ve taken her Creative Live and Craftsy course. I am grateful that she shares her thoughts. She is so inspiring. Thank you, Cheryl, for an insightful post.
I will be implementing this awesome idea into my morning. After the house is quiet and I am alone with my thoughts and my dogs. Greag idea.
I’m sitting here reading this after checking my emails and realise an hour has disappeared and now I need to get ready for work !! I’m starting this tomorrow – my emails and stuff can wait and I bet I’m happier when I get to work if I get some sewing in !! thanks Cheryl 🙂
This is fantastic inspiration! I actually sat down with some tea this morning to finish a Christmas gift I was working on that’s been on my to-do list for a while. It took just 25 minutes to finish and I felt great knowing that it was completed.
Great post. I too do this but I’ve never thought of it in this lovely way. It is a sort of meditation. Thank you for sharing. 💗
I am retired so theoretically I have all day, BUT…I love the idea of “MORNING MAKE” since I am a morning person, and it will get me out of bed and making! Thank you!
What a great idea! I’m definitely going to give this a go. Thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you for posting this!
When I remember to do this I feel great all day long. It is the eat the frog first theory. Thanks for putting a name to it.
Such a great idea. I gave it a go this morning and I was pleased with what I managed to get done. Not sure it’s sustainable for me as bed is so warm and cozy, but I shall do it again tomorrow!
100% agree! I started painting in the mornings – even if for only 10-15 minutes when my daughter went to high school and we had to be up earlier. I didn’t feel guilty working on non paid work when it was only 7:30am. I figured there was plenty of time for that later. I consider it my morning meditation. I feel so much better when I do it.
Short regular creative sessions are one of the most important things I recommend in my book “Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.” These short sessions help you progress in whatever you’re working on – far more than you would think. And they keep that creative endeavor top of mind all week. https://shop.eileenmckenna.com/ebook.html