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Getting out of the habit of writing can lead to some ugly writing consequences. I’m not talking necessarily about the quality of what you write, but simply getting anything written at all.

write daily, coffee optional for some

write daily, coffee optional for some

I’m reminded of this because I recently rededicated myself to writing every day in the morning, before I look at email or do any other kind of work. It’s been great—I’ve made progress on my ebook, on blog posts, and on the beginnings of a novel. Yeah for me!

But I took yesterday morning off, since I was meeting with a friend for coffee on the early side, and couldn’t get there early enough to squeeze in some writing before said friend arrived.

This morning, trying to write has been one long uphill struggle. No words for the novel came, no motivation to write anything on the ebook. Finally with my hour set to expire, I decided that a short blog about how difficult today was might work. It has, to a point.

I’m not a morning person, the way that the Great Plains are not mountains. So why decide to write first thing in the morning? Despite my hatred of it, I need structure to write. Doing something creative first thing in the morning stimulates my brain in a way nothing else—even coffee—can, and sets a better tone for the day.

For several years, following Julia Cameron’s excellent advice in The Artist’s Way, I wrote morning pages—three pages longhand every morning right when I got up. (OK, I did make coffee first. I’m not a saint, you know.) While I was doing those, I also worked on a novel, short stories, even a play—and that was all in addition to my paid writing work.

Daily writing works, even if you don’t like what you’re writing. It’s nice if you like what you wrote, but you don’t need to. Usually your inner critic is picking on you, and about a month later, whatever you wrote suddenly sounds much better.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying what Tchaikovsky said about composing—it applies equally to writing: “I am at my desk at 9 o’clock every morning, and my muse has learned to be prompt.”

Jennifer Alvey is a writer and editor who is trying to make friends with mornings. She still prefers to edit in the afternoons. Have your own winning writing strategies? Drop a note to jalveyATwordsolutionsDOTbiz.