Notes For Creators

cross fit for the creative soul

4. The day begins the night before

Does this recur in your life like it does in mine? That you relearn what you learned previously then forgot?

I was first struck by this in my mid to late twenties, going through my journals from several years earlier. I was reading through an intense period before, during and after a semester abroad in Australia. When I really learned to frolic.

After catching up on that wild year, filled with young ardor and couplings and bumblings and much else, I realized that much of what I’d learned then I was having to relearn now five or six years hence.

The too muchness of it.

That simply by living out loud, exuberantly, you were bound to disappoint others.

It pained me then — in my early twenties and again in my mid-twenties — how much living a little too fast and loose pained others.

I was relearning something I should have locked down: To be more careful with the feelings of others.

To be clearer that I was living a kind of vagabond relationship life, setting up camp only briefly here and there.

In a word: Thoughtfulness.

In another word: Empathy.

In a string of words I probably used at that time: Get your shit together and become an adult, man!

Today’s excess has to be paid back with interest tomorrow.

Another thing I had to relearn.

Which leads me obliquely to this week’s micro experiment. Relearning a valuable life tool: Planning for the next day at the end of this one.

When I was living The Creative Morning Challenge this past year, this simple hack resurrected itself and made my days flow so much easier. Thirty days of getting up at an ungodly early hour was smoothed by this process — I’d already planned out my morning, my day, the night before.

I just needed instinct to kick in — and a glass of water.

And to pee.

Then I was off on a tear.

Week 4 of my Year of Micro Experiments went decently. I only missed one day.

Not bad considering my planning is a little elaborate — I draw out a simple grid on the top sheet of an 8.5 by 11 yellow pad in a folio I keep with me at all times. Down the left side of the sheet run the hours of the day, every other line, starting at 6 am — going till 7 pm.

I bisect the page with a line running down the middle — not the middle really, the hours of the day are a one-third column on the left. The right column is two-thirds of the page.

The right side is where I break down what I intend to tackle for the day.

In segments I separate out — for Body, for Spirit, for Gallery, for The Work, for Home, for Vision, for Connection — you get the idea.

Overly elaborate, I know!

But that’s me. I like the versatility of this format. After a couple years of going pure digital I had to go back to a handwritten system.

Like an artisan, a pizza maker, a masseuse, I need to do it by hand.

There’s something so righteous about crossing out what you’ve written down.

Picked up Zane? 

Cross that sucker out.

Engaged in The Work for at least an hour? (My creative practice . . . )

Victory. Cross it out.

That’s what Week 4 was about — re-establishing a habit I’ve had before, planning out my next day at the end of the day prior.

It takes 15 minutes, even my draw-grids-on-paper version. Not a lot. But what punch it packs the next morning.

You get up, glance at your Day Page — that’s what I call it — and ease right into it. No need to figure anything out. It’s there, revving my engine.

I relearned this in Week 4: The day begins the night before.

I first realized this way back in my twenties. The phrase was solely about sleep back then.

Now it’s gathered mystical force in my life, that phrase speaks a druid-level truth to me — that if I envision my day the night before, some kind of good juju gets infused into my waking hours.

I’ve mostly continued with this practice since Week 4. (I’m writing this more than a week since Week 4 ended.)

Don’t you love it when good things become addicting? 

 

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