Today was the first day of an eight week long twice a week 6-7 a.m. bootcamp I signed up for. On my way back when thinking about the writing activities I have to undertake I realised there is a strange commonality between the early morning intensive circuits training and academic writing.
When attending early morning exercises I always found that there are two crucial points I have to overcome to actually make myself go and engage effectively. The first point is simply getting up and out of the house, the second point are the first 5 minutes of exercise, during which I admittedly usually yawn my head off. My dad usually says:
It is important to keep discomfort in our lives.
In good old German manner my mom would agree with something down the line of: it steels the character. I believe there is even more to it. I believe it builds or maintains rescillience. And I have found that if I overcome these two points of challenge, the overcoming provides me with a sense of achievement first thing in the morning.
For me one of the most difficult things in beginning to write, is actually beginning to write. So this is the first point of overcoming. To not accidentally create excuses of why I would not be able to go to the early morning circuits, I prepare everything in the evening. Put out my gym gear, place waterbottles and fruit or a fruit bar (Aldi actually has really nice inexpensive no added sugar, fruit and nut bars) on the counter, and make sure the car has petrol in it. So there won’t be an excuse for running late because I couldn’t locate my trainers, or it’s too late now to still go because I had to pop to the petrol station first.
Make a plan. During my PhD I often stopped with a half finished paragraph or thought, and some bullet points of how I planned to continue writing. This would enable me to sit down and simply continue the writing process. So start with pointers, quotes, sources, anything that will enable you to write right away.
To actually get out of the house I set my alarm to half an hour before training starts, literally getting up and into gear, eat one of the bars and take some water and then just go. Same with writing:
Just do it!
And this is the most difficult part.
To ignore all the distractions, the internal and external ones. The knowledge that I go to something which I can pick up right away, and not a blank sheet helps me to overcome the inhibitions of not ‘just doing it’. What are your strategies?