Michael Spinali is a husband, father, and writer of fiction from Newport Beach, California.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine begins at 5:00am, a time suggested in a random Elmore Leonard video, rather than invented by me. Once I’m awake I brush my teeth and walk downstairs to begin my fiction writing.
Those days, the tired days, having ten minutes to myself is a treat before I confront the blank page. I never prepare for the morning, there’s no pre-write; just spontaneous words on the page. Amazingly, a short while later, it’s done. During the 30-60 minutes it takes to write, edit, and publish that day’s continuation of the current story, I’ll make coffee and drink it.
Most days I don’t go back to bed because I cherish that time to myself, about an hour before the wife and kiddos wake up. I’ll sip on the coffee, work on my novel, browse the internet, check email and my phone, research stocks, or just read.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I began writing fiction daily in December last year (2013) and haven’t missed a day since!
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Before this routine I’d go in waking up early spurts but rarely did that last a week. Before turning 38 I’d never had a consistent morning routine.
What time do you go to sleep?
I should go to bed earlier; sometimes it’s as late as midnight to 1:00am.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I’m woken up to a cell phone alarm at 5:00am and can’t imagine succeeding otherwise. Of course, it’s not easy. There are many times when I hit the snooze “button” a few times! If I didn’t have my cell phone alarm, I wouldn’t be able to get up.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
For breakfast the kids love their thick bacon slices and fruit–the ultimate contradiction–while we enjoy our “favourite” consisting of granola clusters, berries, nonfat plain yogurt, cinnamon, and honey.
Breakfast generally doesn’t happen before 8:00am. Not by design, I just don’t wake up hungry.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Sure, I’m a morning person, but I rarely work out that early.
How about morning meditation?
I’m in the process of implementing morning meditation prior to writing at 5:00am, but that hasn’t made it into the rotation just yet.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning, or leave it until later in the day?
I’ll look at email and social media while I’m waking up, but once I get started writing those tend to wait.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
First thing. It helps me wake up.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Well, at least I know I’m writing and what’s more, since the launch of my site, I haven’t missed a day. This is largely due to the fact that I’d let people down if I didn’t write, akin to the workout-buddy analogy. It’s worked. My commitment has turned daily writing into a habit, something I’ve always wanted to succeed at but never have until now.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Probably about 5:30am.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
It’s challenging not being home, but the work still gets done.
Having a “favorite” breakfast meal can’t help this routine when we travel. It’s always a struggle for some reason. So far I’ve pulled it off, but I’ve had my share of issues using other people’s equipment, working off slow Wi-Fi, and having random laptop or iPad problems.
In the end, there really is nothing like home when it comes to a morning routine. I need the schedule. I like 5:00am. And so far I’m batting a thousand following the advice of a literary giant.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I’d probably freak out and then get over it. It hasn’t happened yet in eight months.
Our recommended book this week is Pivot by Jenny Blake. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.