I caught a joke on Facebook the other day that made me smile. It went something like this: I’m opening a gym called RESOLUTIONS. For the first two weeks, it will be full of exercise equipment. After that, it will be converted into a bar. 

Last year, I made a New Year’s resolution to go six months without drinking alcohol. I lasted a fortnight. In the past, I’ve resolved to exercise more, eat better, watch less television, read more books. I’ve rarely managed to stick to any resolution past January before slipping into lazy old habits. I suspect I am not alone in this.

This year I made a new resolution. Write more.

Winter’s Shadow was published in 2011. Winter’s Light was published in 2012. Claudette in the Shadows was published in 2013. It’s now 2017 and there are no new M.J. Hearle novels available to read. Lüne is finished but as of now, I cannot confirm a publication date. It might be another year. It might be more. Regardless, that will be at least a five-year gap between my last published work and the next. Unless you’re George R.R. Martin (and even if you are him) that’s too long for an author.

I got married in 2012 and became a dad in 2013. My wife and I had another child this year. As anyone who’s lucky enough to do it knows, being a parent takes up a lot of your time. Combine that with a demanding gig in advertising and one could almost excuse me for being less than prolific. One would be wrong.

Search through any novelist’s biography and there will be stories of hardship. Few are afforded the luxury of being able to write without having to worry about earning an income through other means. Most writers have families. Despite these obstacles, writers still find time to write. The successful ones do, anyway.

Lately, I find myself clicking through articles on Medium about productivity. Articles like this one. And this one. Judging by the popularity of these articles, it seems I’m not the only one who struggles to balance their life responsibilities with their writing goals. Each article offers different advice yet the one constant seems to be about effecting a daily routine. A set time when you write. A set time when you can write without being distracted.

My little boy wakes up anywhere between 6.30 and 7.00 am and expects me to make him breakfast so if I’m to get any writing done it will have to be before then. This means sitting at my computer by 5.30 am so I can squeeze in the bare minimum of 1 hour writing time. This means waking up at 5 am so I can fit in the necessary coffee beforehand. I am not a morning person so you can imagine how this prospect galls me.

The only other option is to write late at night after everyone has gone to bed. History, however, suggests this won’t work for me. Many an evening, I’ve come home with the best intentions of punching out 1,000 words before midnight. With a bellyful of dinner and a cold beer in hand it’s difficult to hold onto these intentions. Energy is a finite resource and round about 9 pm mine has been spent. 

So, it’s mornings for me.

Research suggests it takes at least a month to form a new habit. That should take me and my new morning writing schedule right through January and into February. Round about the time most New Year’s resolutions fail. We’ll see if this one does. I don’t want to write a post like this next year. I’d much rather be celebrating the publication of a new novel. Losing a little sleep seems like a small price to pay.

M.J.