It was my practice to sit at my desk at 5.30 every morning and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy. – Anthony Trollope
Trollope, a 19th century novelist wrote more than 50 books in his lifetime, most of them while working on his day job as a civil servant. If you think waking up at 5.30 every morning to write, would have taken immense discipline, let me introduce Trollope’s mother, Frances Trollope, an acclaimed novelist herself who did not write her first book before she was 53, when she was forced to write because of economic hardship. She woke up and started writing at 4 am every morning to write so that by the time everybody woke up, she was on to her household chores and taking care of her ailing husband.
I wanted this piece to be about morning routines but allow me to wander a little and touch on resilience, the theme I have been writing on lately. Imagine you are a 53-year-old woman (I leave the details to your fantasy) and your husband suddenly takes ill and quite unexpectedly your household has to face economic hardship. What do you do? Let me rephrase that question. How far down on your list of appropriate, logical responses is writing a book? Is it on the list? Why did she write a book? Maybe she always wanted to write one or maybe she felt strongly about something, but to let adversity be a spark to kickstart her writing career, I think showed immense resourcefulness in the time of need. To be able to call upon your hidden talents when needed, to be able to tap into your core structures and abilities is the epitome of resourcefulness, if ever there was one. It makes sense to conclude that resourceful people are more resilient in the face of adversity because they allow themselves more avenues for dealing with the situation.
Now coming back, if you go through Mason Currey’s book ‘Daily Rituals’, in which he lists how various greats of the past spent their days (he studied literary figures, authors, inventors, scientists to name a few), you might be able to notice a vague pattern of weirdness and curious mannerisms and habits that were in place because they perhaps aided their creative process. One thing that you will be able to clearly ascertain will be the fact that no two greats had similar days. Somebody was getting up at 4 in the morning while somebody was getting up at 10. What was similar was that everybody had, probably through hit and trial found something that aided their process and helped them perform at the highest level and stuck to that.
Now we must remember, that these were great, great beings who were able to perform at the highest level through most of their lifetime. That requires a serious skill set, and that skill set requires constant discipline. And both these things are something we can practice and hone to various degrees. Through my research and readings, I came across the importance of morning ritual a lot; a lot (see: all) of successful people seem to have it, some kind of a schedule for the first 3-4 hours. I won’t go into the details of the construction of a schedule or why it is important as you can find all that out very easily on google.
Instead I will share very briefly, my personal experience with application of a morning ritual. If we count today I have done it for seven days and I will be honest, I am still working at it. I have not been able to wake up at the same time every day and I have not been able to do all the same things, in short, I have not been able to develop a ritual, so the process is still going on and I guess it will take a month to develop a stable ritual that I am comfortable with and at least another three, to be able to completely and consistently follow it. But here’s what this stop-start morning ritualising has done for me, first and most important, it has made me more productive and lent much needed structure to my day, and second, I am sleeping early now and waking up earlier than I used to and that is a huge development for me. So even with my stop-start, inchoate morning ritual I am beginning to see positive transformation, which makes me very excited for developing a settled and regular morning ritual.
When are you starting yours?
Note to self: I have to keep in mind that I am just starting off and it probably will take time for me to develop a morning ritual and I will be making mistakes and messing up some of the days and that I need to be patient with myself and forgive myself for every time I mess up a little bit, because it’s okay. Great things take time.