I used to be able to push myself to five in the morning, every single day. I did this for months, always hating it, always wishing I did not have to be up that late. But, behold, that was what always happened.
It’s still happening, and it is my own fault. I’ve probably (but I’m not sure) mentioned this before on the blog, but I subscribe to a thing I call “The Dailies.” They are activities that I must accomplish, no matter how sleepy I am, no matter what, within a cycle of me being awake.
I don’t go off the clock. The cut-off is not midnight. From when I wake up to when I go to bed, these actions must be completed. They’ve varied over the 2-3 years I’ve been doing this, but, they currently consist of the following:
- Write 1700 words of fiction a day.
- Walk for an hour a day, with 6 sprints in the middle of it.
- Weightlifting routine once daily.
- Read twenty pages of something that is not for work (preferably fiction).
- Note down, roughly, what I ate the previous day.
- Fill out a notebook page with what I want to get done the following day.
- Note down a “Lesson Learned Today,” which is one or two sentences summing up something educational that happened to me.
I do this in addition to my paying writing jobs, my social life, and chores (including cooking). And, thus, I am up so late. I don’t get to go to sleep until all the tasks are done. Ever. Sure, on occasion, I’ve forgotten to lift weights, or fill out the notebook—but it’s never purposeful.
No matter what it does to me, or how it fucks over my schedule, I do The Dailies.
It’s why I started drinking coffee. It’s why I sometimes suffer from intense sleep deprivation. And I could have the discussion about how potentially insane that is and how it’s clearly not something I can sustain forever. But, hey, I’ve written several million words, lost nearly a hundred pounds (even if I’ve gained some of it back), and read a fuck ton of novels, so, even if it all falls apart, at least I got something done.
I’m still young enough to pull off this shit. I’ll reap the rewards later.
But that time might be coming sooner than I’d like. Come four in the morning, I’m starting to slip. I’ll pass out while writing or reading and then need to force my body back awake. I was using the magic of intense blue light to trick my circadian rhythms, but then I started to get eye-strain…
So, yeah. I’ve burned my candle shorter. I don’t bemoan my fate; I don’t regret it. To others, I might even recommend it. If you are young, if you still have that freedom of low responsibility, you can make and make and create, and then let your future self, however far in the future, reap the rewards of the rapid burning of your candle.
Just don’t go too far and end up only hurting yourself.
And, as for me, I may have to slow it down or find a way to not reduce myself to an exhausted slump every single night and then pass out until the afternoon.
Even I must admit it’s not healthy, and I’m a crazy workaholic.