Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Don't Cheetahs Hunt After 10 A.M.?

Now that I'm a savvy e-book buyer, I went all crazy-like and got PBW's Way of the Cheetah. If any writer out there has earned the right to give advice on how to be productive, she's the one. If I could be one tenth as prolific as she is, I'd be ecstatic.

Anyway, I read the book yesterday afternoon and found myself nodding constantly at her no-nonsense, straight up dope on what it takes to be a real writer. She offered a lot of good suggestions on how to become disciplined. Stuff that made so much sense, in fact, I actually decided to give some things a try.

Like, I set my alarm clock for 6:00 this morning. Figured I'd get in a solid hour of writing before it was time to get in the shower and then wake the kids and ready them for school.

The alarm goes off at 5:50 (my clock is set 10 minutes fast because I need at least one tap of the snooze before I even consider getting out of bed, but setting the alarm for "5:50" is simply too uncivilized for my tiny brain to handle). I tap the snooze thinking there is no freakin' way (actually, the word was a little more explicit than that) I was going to be able to crawl out of my warm bed and go down to the cold living room and write for an hour. What in the hell had I been thinking? It's still pitch black outside!

I'm so not a morning person. In college, my roommate would get up at 5 am to study for exams she had that day. I thought she was nuts. I'd stay up until 5 am to study just so I could sleep until the last possible minute before I had to be there. The summer I had to get up at 5:30 in order to commute to my internship by the 7 am start time just about killed me. In my perfect world, nothing would open or begin before 10:00 and I could sleep until at least 9 every single day.

Anyway, the alarm goes off, I hit the snooze and fall back asleep. And then wake up when the alarm goes off nine minutes later. At which time, the dog starts licking her butt which always worries me means she needs to go out and is trying to stem the flow, or at the very least shakes the bed so much there's no way I can get back to sleep. I laid there until 6:15 before I decided I might as well get up because otherwise, what will happen is that I'll fall asleep at precisely 6:50 and be nearly dead when the alarm goes off at 7 and I really do have to get up.

I crept downstairs, let the dog out (see, I told you) and made myself a cup of hot chocolate. I followed the next step in Viehl's Way of the Cheetah and opened up my fresh Word document, not allowing myself to think of doing anything at all other than write. If I'm going to get up at 6-freakin'-o'clock to write, I'm damn well going to write and nothing else.

Forty-five minutes later I'd managed nearly 1,000 words. I think about 995 of those are crap, but at least they're on paper. No matter what else happens today - like me slipping into a coma - I can hold my head up and say I've written my thousand words for the day.

When I turned the light off at 11 last night, telling my husband about my Grand Plan, he laughed out loud. He's not a morning person, either. For years I've been telling him he should get up early and work out in the morning, before he goes to work, rather than doing it in the evening and missing far too many dinners with the family. He admits it's a good idea, but he also knows he's far more likely to throw the alarm clock across the room than bounce out of bed and put his running shoes on. He asked me, this morning, how it worked, and I expressed my serious doubts about my Grand Plan. He correctly suggested that it might take a couple of months for my body to get adjusted to a new schedule.

Thing is, I don't know if I have the fortitude to last that long. Right now I have a killer headache, which may or may not have anything to do with waking up early but hurts all the same. And I know the bed upstairs isn't made yet and I can hear it calling to me to come back into the warmth of its soft, downy wonderfulness.

Maybe I'm the rare nocturnal cheetah. Maybe I'm not a cheetah at all, but more like a hamster, busy all night and back in my cozy little cave before the sun comes up.

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