Ee: Early, Practice Early Before All Else Claims You

During April, I will be blogging about how creative people can practice their craft every day and what rewards will come from the daily effort.

Ee: Early
Practice Early and Have a Bounce in Your Step the Rest of the Day

Although I know two writers who wake as early as 3am every day to practice their craft, this fails to work for me and most every other creative person I know.

However, it’s true that whether your life allows large expanses of time to create or flings obstacles and distractions at you by the dozens, fitting in your daily effort close to the start of the day has a few benefits.

First, you’ll be better able to handle the rest of the day.

On the days I manage to practice early, I feel more capable of handling whatever else comes at me, even when it has nothing to do with writing or art, which it usually doesn’t. Occasionally, in a stressful moment, I’ll get a sliver of cheer, courage, even confidence when I recall my morning spent writing.

Secondly, while the rest of your day might be satisfying, it won’t be enough.

Here’s what I mean. I called my mom one day while I struggled over a terrible drawing. Life had given me a few very legitimate reasons not to practice art, but I sat at the desk anyway. My mom, also an artist familiar with all the usual struggles, surprised me by saying she was proud of me for getting at it and making time for my work, even if it was failing terribly at the moment. I whined and told her that I find the rest of my life’s work  satisfying, so why am I forcing myself to do this? She sighed, and said from what sounded like years of experience, “because you won’t feel fulfilled if you don’t draw and write.”

Exactly. Even if the rest of your life feels satisfying, fulfillment comes from practicing your craft, even if only for a few minutes. A writer-friend of mine, one of the ones who gets up at 3am, put it this way:

“A friend tells me that when he goes to work he can tell which of his colleagues have been writing by the lilt of their steps, the bright glances from their eyes, the easy music in their voices. There is a buoyancy, he says, in the creative life that is sustaining to the practitioner, and also to those nearby.” –Kim Stafford, The Muses Among Us

If you feel guilty about making time for your art even though it’s not currently helping you pay the bills, remember this—your practice helps to sustain those around you by making you a more “buoyant” person to be around.

Lastly, and most pragmatic, practicing early in the day puts your project in the forefront of your mind. So, as you go about your day, mid-email or mid-conference call, you’re likely to have a “Eureka!” moment when a piece to your creative puzzle comes to mind. If you carry a notebook with you, jot down your idea, or you can text yourself, or leave yourself a voicemail, whatever it takes to capture that idea. This insight can then spark your work tomorrow, and on it goes.



I write and illustrate stationery, cards, customized snail mail (yes, you can receive handwritten and illustrated letters in your mail!!), coloring books, and more. My business name is "Carrot Condo." After teaching English for 15 years (gasp!), I am now a full-time parent and part-time artist slowly, but steadily, building a creative business and life. You can read more at or see my products at Thanks for your interest and support!!
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9 Responses to Ee: Early, Practice Early Before All Else Claims You

  1. EcoCatLady says:

    I totally suck at this. For a while I was trying to do yoga first thing in the “morning” (morning being a relative term for a night owl like me) but it’s just too chaotic. It’s like as soon as I wake up I’m surrounded by stuff that needs to happen immediately, if not sooner – mostly getting everybody fed (everybody being defined as me and three hungry & demanding fe-lions.) By the time that’s all taken care of they day is generally well under way.

    I do much better carving out time at night – preferably after midnight, when the phone isn’t gonna ring, and the chaos of the day has quieted down. The only problem with this approach is that if I’m working on any sort of a project, I tend to get wrapped up in it, and before I know it the sun is coming up and I’ve once again ruined any chance of reforming my night owl ways! Sigh.

    • TRISTA says:

      I relate to this, Cat Lady! If life gave me total freedom, I’d probably sleep somewhat late and be creative in evening and night time. However, it seems like society/culture and sometimes family work against this. I’d find myself saving creative work for the evening but then be so tired my eyes watered and I resented the work. Writing/drawing as the very first thing in the morning also does not work for me, but I find I am most likely to work daily if I fit it in during the first third of the day.

  2. Alex Hurst says:

    I’m with EcoCatLady… I suppose if I made reading blogs and checking emails a second priority thing (hard to do when you’re a teacher and admin for a 6,500+ member group) I could start writing earlier in the morning. But maybe I’ll give it a shot tomorrow… if my partner doesn’t kill me for having an alarm go off that early. XD haha…

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

    • TRISTA says:

      Oh, teaching and admin, Alex? I’ve totally been there, and I get it! For me, while teaching, I really had to put writing first because so much of the rest of my day was spent in front of a computer writing, then using up all my energy in the classroom with my students. I’d get lots of ideas during the day, but I’d be way too drained to do much about them in the evening.

      • Alex Hurst says:

        Yeah…. I better start getting up early again! 7am has always felt so early though, hahah.

  3. Renee says:

    I definately agree! Though I dont often get to it first thing in the morning because of family obligations, and my blog entries are getting done toward the end of the day. Enjoy the challenge!

    • TRISTA says:

      Yes, very first thing in the morning doesn’t work for me, either. I’m also realizing, as I consider these comments, that I can revise or edit late in the day, but if I need to work on a first draft, I need to be well-rested and focused. Maybe it’s not about being early but about knowing our energy levels throughout each day and finding the “sweet spot” for the work we need to do.

  4. Rose L. says:

    An early riser I am not. I get up at 9 am on the 3 days I work to be there by 10. I do not function well early. I find it difficult to develop a routine. I move like a butterfly, from task to task, and lose focus walking from one room to another! With all I am going through right now, becoming focused and organized is out of the question. Maybe by fall,…

    • TRISTA says:

      Moving like a butterfly sounds quite lovely. Actually, just this morning, my guy and I were talking about how pollinating bees need bumble bees because, like the butterfly, bumble bees do just that: bumble. They disturb the pollinating bees who are very linear and focused. Without the bumble, the other bees might pollinate only one straight strip of a whole field. So, there’s nothing wrong with being like a butterfly (or bumble bee), right?

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