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Why I don't write in the morning

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An author friend once described his writing process. He wrote the bulk at 5 a.m. or so, as the sun came up over the water just outside the window of his office. He was mentally at peace, able to focus, be productive. Then he could tuck it away and go about his day, knowing he'd made great progress.

That is my dream. Not even just writing in the morning. I dream of waking up early and doing A-NEE-THING. Working out. Darning socks. Reading three national newspapers. Planting some fresh basil. Boiling eggs for protein-filled healthful lunch. Whatever it is people do before work.

To explain why I don't, I thought it would be helpful to chronicle my morning in the vein of Bridget, everyone's constant inspiration for life. Here we go.

Each night before bed I set the alarm on my iPhone several hours early, expecting to spring out and tackle the day with renewed vigor and verve. I put the iPhone across the room so I will be forced out of bed.

When the alarm goes off, I roll over and grunt. I get up with eyes closed, stumbling toward the phone. I step on a high heel and decide 30 more minutes is in order, or else I simply won't be of sound mind today. A clear head is the most important thing. I reset alarm and fall back into bed.

Alarm goes off again. I get up with eyes closed, stumbling toward the phone. I step on a high heel. I grab the phone and hit snooze, a much more responsible and brief setting. I fall back asleep holding the iPhone. I wake up in 9-minute segments for the next 27 minutes.

I recall in horror how I wanted to get up and write 1,000 words and plant basil. At the exact moment I pull back the covers, the air conditioner clicks on sending a whoosh of cold air over me. At the exact moment the air conditioner clicks on, rain starts gently pelting the window. I cannot possibly be expected to get out of bed under such conditions. I fall back asleep for nine minutes.

The iPhone coughs out one more fatigued beep. I shoot awake and burst out of bed, determined just to make a quick coffee because I'm trying to cut back on Diet Coke. I get the grinds out, then remember how coffee takes forever. Might as well have a healthy breakfast while it's brewing. Finding none, I select a cold crab rangoon from last night.

I add glugs of International Delight until the coffee resembles a milk bath. Mmm. The coffee tastes delicious, almost like dessert. I sit down and enjoy it, because you only live once. I feel like a Folgers commercial, and expect my imaginary soldier brother to tip-toe through the door and surprise me. He's home from the Middle East!

I watch a Today show segment about fall fashion trends and decide this pertains directly to my job. Very prudent. I watch the next segment about making shrimp ceviche at home, because that is useful information that can benefit my household, and in turn, my mental health, which will benefit my career. I watch a performance on the plaza from Justin Bieber because, well...

CRAP. Time is running out. I chug coffee during the dance break and stand to get dressed. On the way, I see this:

It all comes racing back, how I'm responsible for the care and feeding of another living thing. I pour dog food in the bowl, feeling like a horrible mother.

I race to the bathroom. In a cunning time-saving move, I showered the prior night after a late workout. Unfortunately, my hair has dried in a center part overnight, and I look like John Denver.

I pour water on the hair and push it around. Still Denver. I pour more water on the hair and blow dry the whole thing, realizing that another shower would have been quicker.

I select a favorite dress. Dresses are great, because wearing a single piece of clothing saves on time. But now I need to shave. I grab the razor and drag it over my dry skin. I then begin the search for lotion that hasn't expired to remedy the scratch marks. The shower mocks me.

After a quick mirror inspection, I notice the dress looks a little short. Must have shrunk in the wash. Hmm. I examine it from several positions, standing, sitting, pretending to pick up the iPhone, hailing a cab. I decide it's fine, because I write fun things and can be a little sassy. But then I hear Stacy London's voice boom overhead, telling me to dress for the job I want, not the job I have. But I like my job. So no worries there. But shouldn't we always be ladder-minded, forward-moving, goal-oriented? I debate with myself for 10 minutes. Then I wonder, ladder aside, if I just look trashy. Stacy London's voice comes back saying, "Why buy the slice when you can have the loaf for free?" Or was it the other way around? And isn't that a little antiquated and marital? I Google the quote on my iPhone. It's slow, probably from all the snoozing it has to do every morning.

I put on jeans.

I start makeup, deciding on eyeliner like Sharon Tate from Valley of the Dolls. It quickly gets out of hand, and I look like Elvira. Now not only am I a tarty ladder-sitter, I am a Halloween witch woman.

I start over, trying to recall the eyeliner chapter from the Kevyn Aucoin makeup tutorial I've had since high school. Where is that book, anyway? I walk to the book shelf past the TV, and notice Paula Deen making butternut squash bisque with Al Roker. My favorite! It's so delicious, and simple to boot!

No! No! I buckle down and finish getting ready, tearing through the house. I grab a Diet Coke because the coffee was weakened by the gallons of International Delight.


Stuart the dog has gone nutbar crazy. He wants to go out. Of course he does. While I traipse around drinking white coffee, he's got to hold it because he's only allowed to pee on bushes. I am a horrible mother who should be arrested. But we live in a townhouse, so it's not so simple as opening the back door. It's a huge production of sitting and leashing and calm-assertive dog training and Cesar Milan tip sheets. If the boyfriend is there, I beg him to take him out, aware I'm teetering on being one of those people who gets a dog and makes other people do the dirty work. If he's not there, I flail with abandon until Stuart gets on the leash, Cesar Milan training but a whisper in the room. Then I clomp through the neighborhood in heels, makeup sweating off my face, past the male house painters eating sandwiches on the back of the truck, staring. When I bend to pick up poop, I decide pants were the right choice.

Then I go to work. And that's why I don't write in the morning.

Tell me. When do you write? And if you say 5 a.m., we're not friends.


  1. Hilarious stef (iPod typed "Stefan" but I caught it thank god) reminds me of Tina fey in bossypants. The people who wake up early and do stuff like writing at five am are scary. I'm a night owl right through just like my mom - a woman who stays up past midnight to watch Frasier even though she has to be up at 5 am (to work like a normal person not "be productive" like those sickos out there)

  2. Haha. It's always something dumb, like Frasier. Or a Home Shopping presentation of a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

  3. This sounds oddly like my own mornings. Funny!

  4. I write best about 2 a.m., when no one else is up but me and Adult Swim is on the TV, muted.

  5. This. Is. My. Morning. Except, to save time on the 'dog peeing in bushes' thing, I litterbox trained my yorkie Alexa. So all I have to do is change the newspaper in between stabbing myself in the eye with a mascara wand and scrolling my iphone to see if I missed any extra important world shattering tweets between when I fell asleep & when I woke up (and I don't usually miss a thing, bc normal people are asleep 3 hours before me, no matter what coast they're on). And yes, I'm also probably horrible dog mom.

    I write best at night - usually right around when I decide I should go to bed, something pops into my head and keeps me up til 5 am. Creating the entire vicious morning cycle. Hence the need to name my FINAL final iphone alarm "You might as well call in sick if you hit snooze again."

  6. Such a good idea. Maybe I can have my phone scream profanities at me...