Rhythms and Transitions in Life

This pandemic year of 2020 brought us a long, hot, dry summer in Southern New Mexico. Usually we get some relief when the monsoon rains come in July and August, but this year, the monsoon only made a few fleeting attempts at getting started. During the long, hot summer, I fell into a regular daily rhythm. I woke up in the morning, ate breakfast and checked my email, then took a three-mile walk through the neighborhood where I plotted out my goals for the day before the temperatures climbed back over 100 degrees. I would then come home and set to work. I usually wrapped up in the late afternoon when dinnertime rolled around. Dinnertime was generally enforced by my daughter who had just graduated from high school.

All in all, this has been a healthy life rhythm. I’ve been getting regular sleep and exercise and I’ve been making a real effort to make healthy diet choices. This has paid off for me. According to the scale at home, I’ve dropped fifteen pounds this summer.

The campus observatory at Northern Arizona University

As the summer comes to an end, I find myself going through several transitions. My daughter has moved away to college. So far, her school, Northern Arizona University, has done admirably well at keeping any COVID-19 outbreaks from occurring on campus, so it looks like she’ll be away until winter break, which begins this year starting on Thanksgiving weekend. A cold front moved through, breaking the streak of hot weather. The forecast indicates temperatures will heat up again, but right now, we’re looking at 80s and not 100s. Also, I’m writing a new longer work, plus starting edits on another novel. What’s more, there’s word that Kitt Peak National Observatory plans to transition to having more staff on site as soon as local authorities give approval, so I’m on alert that I may begin shifts at the observatory again soon.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I often do my best writing first thing in the morning before I’ve had any significant interaction with other people. In short, the story flows without the clutter of other life business getting in the way. If I wake up, have breakfast, then sit down and write about 500 words, I have a much higher chance of continuing writing later in the day. Even if I don’t, I at least have the satisfaction that I completed that much. Once that’s done, I then check my mail. From there, I usually get at least one work task done and then go for my walk. All in all, it’s still a healthy rhythm, but one that may shift if I do indeed add observatory shifts into the rhythm.

These thoughts about life rhythms and transitions at a time I’m starting new writing and editing projects also has me thinking about rhythms and transitions in storytelling. I’ll dive into that subject in Tuesday’s blog post. In the meantime, remember that you can learn about my books by visiting http://www.davidleesummers.com

9 comments on “Rhythms and Transitions in Life

  1. I am a strong life time believer that whatever we do during the first hour of the day sets the tone for the rest of the day.

    • rozepotpourri says:

      I agree!

    • Thanks both of you. That’s a great observation. I hadn’t really thought about it consciously, but yes, I think you may be right. I certainly know that days where I’ve started first thing by leaping on some urgent email have always felt more frantic and scattered than days where I either spent an hour writing or reading. This is definitely something to keep in mind when I’m tempted to take a peek at my email before starting other things.

  2. First, congrats on the exercise and weight loss! During bad weather, I exercise by watching TV–while pacing and lifting hand weights (admittedly light weights, but it helps).

    Second, I think organizing one’s day varies by the person. Most of my professional writing has been as a journalist, and that’s affected my other writing including fiction as well. In the morning, I check information including email, do basic research, and write little things. Then I usually turn to writing large projects after lunch.

    One of the biggest benefits of journalism is learning to deal with deadlines. You miss too many deadlines as a reporter, you aren’t just missing a potential sale, you’re out of a job.

    • Thanks, Alden.

      To be clear, I’ve never missed a deadline except under some very specific circumstances which were always discussed with and agreed to by my editor. That noted, this post really isn’t about hitting deadlines, except perhaps in the sense that I prefer to give myself lots of time to reach those deadlines and do it in the least stressful way possible.

      You are correct that each writer has their own best time to write. I’m not attempting to suggest that mine is the only approach, only that a writer should find out the rhythm that works best for them. What’s more one rhythm may not fit any given writer forever and ever. One should be open to changing rhythms depending on a given set of projects or life circumstances.

  3. I too believe in Making early mornings Productive… I get so much work done before my family wakes up..

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