“I wake up every day sometime between 5 and 7:00am. I almost immediately reach for my phone (a habit I’ve been trying to kick for some time).” – Shawn Mihalik Share this quote on Twitter

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Shawn Mihalik

What is your morning routine?

I wake up every day sometime between 5 and 7:00am. I almost immediately reach for my phone (a habit I’ve been trying to kick for some time) and start checking Twitter to see what I might have missed (the late-night Twitter crowd is often incredibly lively and entertaining—here’s looking at you @BretEastonEllis) before reminding myself that I can check social media later, and that I need to get out of bed.

I make coffee right away, but because I usually make pour-over style coffee, I invariably end up back on Twitter (and other social networking sites) while the water for the coffee boils.

When the water is finished boiling and I’ve made my first cup of coffee, I head to my desk and open Scrivener and start writing from where I left off the morning before. I write for an hour or 1,000 words, whichever comes first (usually the hour is over first and I’ve only ended up writing something like 500 words), but often I’ll write for several hours longer, especially if I’m deep into a project.

After writing, I make a second cup of coffee and, while drinking it, read, usually fiction.

After that, I workout, shower, shave—my shaving routine could be a topic in itself: I use one of those old classic double edged safety razors and a brush and everything; I even boil water for shaving most days, etc., and then I continue with the rest of my day.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

My routine has been similar to this for a couple years now, but only in the last few months have I been able to finally make stick the habit of waking up early.

I used to stay up late and wake up as late as ten or eleven in the morning, but ever since I got my first real publishing contract a few months ago, I’ve been waking up early because early morning is when I seem to do my best and most productive writing.

What time do you go to sleep?

This depends on what I’m doing. If I’m home alone, I’ll usually go to bed around 10:00pm, but if I’m with friends, I don’t mind staying up until after midnight as long as I’m having a good time. This is why, while my wakeup time is always early, it varies.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I actually practice Intermittent Fasting most days, so I often don’t have my first meal until after noon. I typically make an omelette and have a piece of fruit, but I also like to go to Chipotle for a steak fajita bowl.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Yes, but I keep it simple. Every other day, and usually in a fasted state, I’ll do a bodyweight routine of a couple hundred push-ups, a few hundred squats, and a couple dozen pull-ups—of course, none of those are in single sets.

On the off days, I’ll either go for a run, practice some yoga or kickboxing, or do a quick core workout—whatever I feel like, really.

Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I always have the urge to check email as soon as I wake up. Usually, I fight it, but sometimes I end up checking it. Either way, I never act on it until later in the day.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Writing, writing, and writing. If I don’t write in the morning, then no matter what else I do that day, I don’t feel productive. The only exception to this is when I’ve completely finished a draft of a project, in which case I don’t write for at least a few days, feeling a bit mentally exhausted, but I read a lot more.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

I drink a large glass of water while the water for my coffee boils.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

Yes, but not nearly as effectively.

When this happens, I mostly just read (I always have my Kindle with me, or at the very least, the Kindle app on my phone), and don’t expect to get any writing done. For this reason, if I’m deep into a particular stage of a project (e.g. writing the first draft, editing and close to finishing the final draft) I intentionally make sure that I don’t put myself in a position where I’ll have to adapt or ignore my routine. I basically hunker down during these periods and devote entire days almost exclusively to writing, editing, and reading.


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