I’ve known for a long time that writing every day is very helpful to my productivity. In the past couple of days, I’ve been reminded that, at least for my fiction writing, it’s also very important to start early in the day.

I’ve always found this a little hard. It’s tough to get going on fiction, even if I’ve got an outline, or have left off writing at a ragged edge where I know just what needs to come next. Faced with that—or, especially, faced with a blank page—it’s very easy to fritter away a few minutes (or a few hours).

Over the past couple of days, I have started early, and have rediscovered a bit of magic: Once I get my brain back into the story space, it solves problems wonderfully well—even when I’m not writing. While I make a mug of tea, I’ll realize that a scene with a phone call should be redrafted as a face-to-face meeting. In the time it takes me to walk to lunch and back, I’ll figure out that two cardboard characters can be combined into one three-dimensional character. As I shower, I’ll figure out how to replace a dull scene with a one-sentence lead-in to the next scene. (But only if I take my shower after the first writing session of the morning.)

This happens all the time, and if I don’t get started writing until late in the day, it becomes a source of frustration. The ideas will start coming, and I’ll still be fresh and anxious to start working on them—but I’ll be out of time. It’ll be evening. I’ll want to spend time with Jackie, doing something together.

So, a reminder to me: If I’m writing fiction, I want to start early. It’s more productive and more fun.

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