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People often ask me how much writing success I attribute to hard work versus talent. But few people think to question the element of luck. Here’s the role I think it plays…
A friend of mine, who’s travelled widely in S.E. Asia, recently told me about “first morning lucky.” Apparently, sidewalk-sellers there, who operate from tarps spread on the ground, are so anxious to sell their products that they offer special deals first thing in the morning.
The “lucky” part is twofold: it’s lucky for you the buyer, because you get a good price; it’s also lucky for the seller because (he believes) an early-morning transaction sets up a successful day.
I also believe in first morning lucky although I use a different name for it. I call it eating my frogs. I know some people see frog meat as a delicacy; I’ve never eaten it for real. The “frogs” I’m talking about are purely metaphorical: those tasks that we really need to do but really, really don’t want to.
I find tackling these abhorrent tasks first thing in the morning to be wonderfully effective. For starters, after a good night’s sleep, I have lots of energy. I’m usually at my desk by 7 am and I find I have bountiful enthusiasm and more clarity than I do later in the day. After all, nothing “bad” has happened yet, so I’m not grumpy or distracted by any troubles. As well, my phone doesn’t tend to ring much before 9 am, so I’m generally undisturbed.
Also, I confess, I’m a “morning lark,” which makes this whole thing feasible. (After a lifetime as a “night owl” I suddenly started waking at 5:30 or 6 am without an alarm, about six years ago. I take no credit for this. I think it’s hormonal.) First morning lucky will likely not work for night owls, although, if that term describes you, you may be able to create your own version of “first evening lucky.”
But here’s my bigger problem with first morning lucky and/or eating my frogs: I run out of morning!! I have so many things I want to do first – writing being number 1 – that I don’t know how to fit them all in.
This was a crisis for me last week as – in a radical break from my own protocol – I put writing on hold and, instead, worked on preparing my books for my bookkeeper. Talk about a frog with legs! I intensely dislike paperwork. Doing it had been on my task list for several weeks and I’d been steadfastly ignoring it.
So, I’d given myself a good talking-to, and finally started working on my books — first morning lucky. This was both good and bad news. Good: an abhorred task started. Bad: I didn’t get any writing done. As a result, I had to write a blog post on the weekend.
Now, I used to write on weekends all the time but, to my family’s delight, for the last year or so I’ve managed to avoid that. And of course, the initial delay sparked an even starker downward spiral. I spent most of the weekend procrastinating – I even vacuumed the hall stairs for goodness sake! – before finally installing myself at my desk and making myself write.
The blog post took me only 20 minutes and once I started it was easy. Of course. But the dread had been terrible.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic wand or any discernible super powers. I can’t stretch morning time to make it last any longer. If I would, I could. Here, however, is what I can and should do.
- I can keep my writing first. After all, I’m a writer and this is my top priority. If I get my writing done first, I’m far more likely to have a “lucky” day.
- I can use pomodoros to get other urgent or important tasks done – perhaps later in the morning or even in the early afternoon.
- I can switch off my phone more often so I can continue to work undisturbed. (In my case, I also need to cover the little blinking red light telling me I have a message. Seeing that is like crack for an addict.)
There’s nothing like first morning lucky or eating a frog. But once the time is gone, there’s no point in sulking. We all set our own priorities.
My priority is writing. What’s yours?
Does “first morning lucky” work for your writing? If not, what time is best for you? We can all learn from each other so please share your thoughts with my readers and me by commenting below. (If you don’t see the comments box, click here and then scroll to the end.)