Heather Wardell is the self-published author of fifteen novels, all (in her own words) women’s fiction with depth, humor, and heart. Her first book has been downloaded over 380,000 times.
What is your morning routine?
I get up between 6:45-7:15am via the Sleep Cycle iPhone app then get dressed to work from home. (If I have to be out that day I shower at this point.)
I feed the cat (the most consistent part of the routine because she won’t let me forget!), grab a big glass of water, and settle onto the couch with my phone nearby to do my morning pages. The official morning pages concept as put together by Julia Cameron requires three pages of free-form writing, but I set my phone timer for fifteen minutes so I know how long the writing will take. I usually get out any worries I have about the day then either think through what I plan to do or just write about whatever comes up.
After writing, I do a meditation session. I read and loved the book Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman, and I use one or two of the authors’ recorded meditations each morning.
Once I’ve written out anything that’s worrying me and done meditation to make sure I start my day calm and peaceful, I go to the computer and do my daily planning. I check my calendar to see if there’s anything I need to do at a particular time, and then slot in my tasks. My writing or editing, depending on what phase I’m in with my current novel, always gets first priority, and the 10-12 and 3-5 time slots, and I fit in whatever else I have to do around that.
Then I fill in my Five Minute Journal on my iPhone, listing three things for which I’m grateful and three which would make my day great. It’s a bit of a duplication of my planning, but I have always wanted to journal and this app makes it easy to do. (I also fill it in at night, listing three great things that happened that day and anything I could have done to make the day better.)
When this is done I glance at an online news site to make sure I have a clue of what’s going on in the world, and then it’s breakfast time. After my husband leaves for work I spend a few minutes tidying up so my work environment is nice and then get down to writing!
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
The meditation part has only been included since March but I love it. I do it in the morning and before bed but I’ve found that the principles of it affect every moment of my day. The rest of it has been fairly consistent for several years now, except the 5 Minute Journal which was only released recently.
What time do you go to sleep?
I try to get away from TV and my phone screen at 9:00pm and then relax and read for a while. Ideally I’m in bed around 10:30 but it’s often closer to 11:00pm.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I do my workouts after lunch because I find I need a boost of energy then and a workout fits the bill. I’m lucky enough to have near-total control over my schedule so I take advantage of it.
I often do at least some of my morning writing session on my treadmill desk (a board laid across the treadmill arms holds my keyboard, and my monitor’s atop a bookshelf in front of me), so that gives me a bit of morning exercise.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
Never ever in the morning!
I don’t do email or check my social media or anything like that until after 5:00pm or whenever my writing is done for the day. There’s always the risk of seeing something (bad review, angry email) that will put my creative mind into a turmoil and I do not want that to happen. I’ve lost some good writing days in the past to such things and so now I simply ignore all of that until the end of the day. I only check once a day, and that seems to work just fine.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
I love a big glass of water. Sometimes I make tea but usually I just want the fresh cool water.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Nearly all of it adapts. I bring a notebook for my morning pages and everything else is or can be done on my iPhone so I have everything I need.
Well, I don’t feed the cat on those days, but I can handle that although I’m sure she misses me.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I find that if I don’t do the entire routine I do feel off for the rest of the day. The planning part is absolutely crucial, though. Even though I know what book I’m working on and I know that’ll get the better part of my time, if I feel unsure of what other tasks I’ll be doing I don’t feel comfortable. I like to have it all planned out.
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