Power-up with the Authorpreneur Power Hour
Remember that first morning of your budding author career when you bounded out of bed at 5am, knocked back your freshly squeezed avocado juice, brewed a vat of coffee, filled your flask, and then sat down to work at your desk with all the fervour of a pumped-up Rafa on French Open Final day? You do? Well, now you're into the second week and the routine is starting to feel a little jaded, isn’t it?
The fact of the matter is that getting up at 5am is impractical, you keep running out of fresh avocados, and the caffeine overload is making you queasy. Then there’s the kids to get ready for school, the washing basket glaring accusingly at you (well, if you will choose to work from home), the postman who has you pinned as the new drop-off point for the entire neighbourhood, plus you’ve only got until 3pm before the kids are back home again. With all this going on, there's just no way you can get 'in the zone'. So just how are you going to see this thing through when the romantic idea of writing life clearly doesn't align with the reality?
What I’d like to share with you now is kind of personal. It's my very own ‘get out of bed and get your backside in gear’ morning routine. In my house, I’m notoriously NOT a morning person. If you want to get any sense out of me – or even just whole words – you’re going to have to wait until at least after 1pm. By the evening, I’m on top form. In an ideal world (e.g. when the kids have left home), I would sleep through the day and work through the night, but - like you - my reality dictates otherwise. So what follows is the routine I use to ensure I get to my desk with enthusiasm every single morning...
I call it my Creative Entrepreneur Power Hour. Feel free to adapt this title, or use any version of it. My Hour starts when the kids leave for school, and goes like this:
20 minutes of yoga.
Bear with me... Please don’t complain that I’ve started with exercise. It’s only 20 minutes, and you can choose whatever form you prefer, from running to star jumps to walking the dog or gentle stretching. Whatever your exercise of choice, this first 20 minutes of your Power Hour is dedicated to your PHYSICAL self. It means you don’t have to think or make any important decisions just yet. You are just paying attention to your physical being – getting the limbs moving, the heart pumping and the blood flowing.
20 minutes of affirmations.
Bear with me again... What I mean by this is reminding youself what your goals are for the coming years, for this year, this month, this week, today. My own goals are handwritten in a notepad in a way that allows me to revisit my aims for the short term as well as the long term. These are clear goals with clear intentions. I have refrained from calling them ‘dreams’ because this implies they may never be real; they are particular aims with concrete deadlines. Short-term goals lead to long-term ambitions and the timescale and methods are explained, as are my reasons for choosing these goals. Now, sometimes the goalposts move slightly or change completely; this is not heresy: just get back to your notebook and jot down your new intentions.
If you haven’t yet done this kind of self-assessment and goal-setting, you’ll need to do this before you begin your Power Hour experiment because it could take a while to compile. Choose a notepad or journal that you will use only for this purpose. Take your time and begin by assessing what you’d like to achieve, why you’d like to achieve it, what difference it will make to your life, what steps you’ll need to take and when you’ll take them. Once you have this written down, your 20 minutes every day of reading through or reading aloud these affirmations will remind you of the feeling you will get when you hit these targets. As these are life goals, this section of your Power Hour tends to your EMOTIONAL self.
20 minutes of inspiration. (This is the best bit...)
After 20 minutes of PHYSICAL and 20 minutes of EMOTIONAL attention, you can sink into your office chair and prepare for 20 minutes of MENTAL stimulation. Now, you could argue that this crosses over into the EMOTIONAL aspect, but I’d say this final section will motivate you so much that when your Power Hour is up, you’ll be ready to engage the brain and jump into action. All you need to do here is listen...
That’s right, I’m talking podcasts. There’s nothing that inspires writers more than learning about other writers’ success stories. This is because writing is a tough game. Mostly you do it alone so you’ve no way of knowing if you’re doing it right; plus you’re living with this overwhelming cloud of expectation from other people; and that’s not even to mention Writer’s Guilt, Writer’s Imposter Syndrome, Writer’s Block, Writer’s Am I Wasting My And Everyone Else’s Time? You name it, writers feel it. But just one success story can put you back on track: just one other person who has been where you are, who ‘gets’ it, who struggled like you struggle, but who made it through to the end and has now created the life they wanted, just as you want to.
Well, here’s the good news: there isn’t just one success story, there are thousands of them (and thanks to self-publishing, there are more and more every day). Not only that, but a large majority of these successful creative entrepreneurs are more than happy to share their experiences in order to help you win big in your career too.
So, why podcasts? Because you will spend all day looking at words; because listening to that person’s voice makes them more real than reading about them in an article; and because you’re more likely to remember and be influenced by what you hear them say than what you read. It's just like they're in the room with you. They are real people with real stories. For me there is no better way to remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, and it’s the perfect way to end the Power Hour. (Plus, if your 20 minutes Physical was particularly physical, you might want to pop in the shower whilst you do this bit!).
Start work :)
So, what do you think? Reckon you could tackle the Power Hour? Perhaps you’ll find your own variation, one that works better for you. I’ll be honest, the timings are not always accurate – the affirmations don’t always take me 20 minutes, and the podcasts can take me a lot longer. But the structure always remains the same: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, MENTAL. Beginning with the PHYSICAL means I don’t have to engage the brain straight away, and 20 minutes is just enough exercise to get the blood flowing to the brain but not so long that I dread doing it. Following up with the affirmations and podcasts is an easy way to wake me up, to motivate and inspire me, and get me ready to start work.
Give it a go. See what you think. And please drop me a line and let me know what happens... I would love to know if the Power Hour works for you or if you’ve developed your own version.
How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be Jack Canfield
'The Creative Penn Podcasts' Joanna Penn
Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)
The Creative Life Show