As I see it, because I’ve studied quite a bit on this, my day goes off the rails pretty much as soon as I get out of bed.
Sometimes it is a kind day, so I can get through a cup of coffee and morning news before things start a-changin.’ Then my plans disappear like morning dew in the summer’s heat.
Because I’m fortunate enough to have a non-conventional career in which I am completely in charge of the hours I work and what I accomplish, I am fairly well-disciplined. When people ask me the key to making a living as a writer — which is similar to making living as an artist who paints canvases — I replied, “Do it. Write. Don’t just think about it.”
Therefore, I’m disciplined. Especially when I consider the alternative is getting up early, dressing, fighting traffic and sitting in an office for a prescribed amount of time, I buckle down and get to it.
Often at night, I make a list of business things for the next day, which will include topics for columns I want to write, book proposal research, television projects Tink and I might do together, speaking engagement matters and bookkeeping. When I awake in the morning, I lie in bed for a bit and refresh my memory on what I need to do that day. I focus on that and if there’s something else that needs doing around the house, I add that onto the tail end.
Then, I get out of bed.
Truly, I figure my day usually starts going off course about 8:30 a.m. when people get to their offices and start calling me with problems I need to solve. To be quite frank, the obsessive use of email and texting has made it even worse, and these come in at all hours. Now people, who before might have resolved a question before they call, don’t hesitate to shoot off a text or email. Eternal accessibility, I hate it.
A few years ago, Tink and I went to Sea Island for a few days and decided to go off the grid. We shut down our phones and email. It was glorious.
“I could get used to this,” Tink said.
“I am used to it,” I replied. “Let’s move to the far reaches of the mountains and go off grid for good.”
I wasn’t kidding.
Over the years, I have determined that 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. are my prime writing hours. If I don’t write then, I generally won’t write a’tall. I decided years ago to avoid the problem of the problems that come when I get out of bed that I just wouldn’t get out of bed until I had written. I sit in bed, have coffee and write. It usually works like a charm. So much so that Tink has picked up this habit.
A few months ago, he sat in bed for more than a week, working on a television pilot. He pretty much only left the bed to wash his hands and eat.
We went to a gospel singing taping at Dr. Charles Stanley’s church, and the next day Tink came down with a severely sore throat.
“He had to have gotten it when we went to Dr. Stanley’s,” I said to Dexter, a wonderful young man who helps around the Rondarosa.
“I know,” Dexter replied with a dry wit. “Because that’s the only time he has been out of bed.”
We’re still laughing about it.
A few days ago, I wrote a column, then started to get out of bed.
“Nope,” I muttered. “I’m staying put and writing more.”
Minutes later, the phone rang. It was an aggravation that called for me to get out of bed, get dressed and go fix it.
Some days this plan works better than others. And sometimes, it brings on a sore throat.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.