I have a new ebook out: Rest in the World: My Morning Routine.
When you write a book, there are stories that you can’t fit into the book, but which deserve to be told at length, or pieces of writing that get left behind, but which deserve to be published somewhere. One of the things I’ve been doing is finding a home for some of those pieces, often in magazines (my recent piece on Britton Chance and sailing is a good example).
I’ve also wanted to experiment more with ebooks. I confess that when I have the option I prefer to read physical books, mainly because I’m a very physical reader, as the picture below illustrates.
However, I can see the value of ebooks for shorter pieces, or things that aren’t meant to be read quite so aggressively as the above.
So I’m experimenting with publishing a couple things on Kindle. The first, Rest in the World: My Morning Routine, is now out, and it talks about how I write; what scientists have discovered about the virtues of doing creative work in the morning; and how developing my own routine changed the way I think about creativity, and helped me develop a more sustainable way of working.* I actually have a chapter in Rest about morning routines, but there’s always more to say about the subject.
Like lots of people, I’m not actually a morning person; during college and grad school, if I was up at 6 a.m., it was because I’d been up all night, not because I’d just gotten up. I saw plenty of sunrises after starting writing a paper at 11 the night before. This is the kind of thing you do when you’re young and have more energy than sense; but it also reflects an assumption that creativity happens best under pressure (like the pressure of deadlines), and that productivity happens after you’re inspired. Basically, the model looks like this:
Deadlines —> Pressure —> Creative Breakthrough! —> Frantic Work
Of course, there were plenty of nights when it was more like
Deadlines —> Pressure —> OMG OMG I Got Nothing —> Throw Something Together
…but still it worked well enough most of the time.
As I got older, though, I realized that this model was not sustainable; and I also started to suspect that it wasn’t necessary. The idea that creative work has to require self-sacrifice and self-destruction is one of the most enduring myths of our culture, but as I explain in the new ebook, it’s actually incorrect. In fact, it’s backwards.
So my aim in Rest in the World: My Morning Routine is to talk in detail about how I do my work, and the science and logic behind my choices, as a way of helping readers think about their own practices, and start to experiment with their own routines. I have very specific things I’m trying to do in the early morning, and particular reasons for each of my choices; and so while no reader will want to just adopt what I do, I hope seeing how I construct my routine will help them think more clearly about how to construct theirs.
Finally, a word about Rest in the World. These days I’m working on a couple projects that explore how companies and other organizations are figuring out how to design work days and working practices that respect circadian rhythms, that don’t burn out workers quickly, and that challenge our assumptions that today’s global 24/7 economies require nonstop sacrifice and constant overwork. Rest in the World is meant to be a series, and the next piece will be out before too long.
*(I did have a much bigger version of it up for a little bit, but this is a much lighter, more device-friendly version– and interestingly, as a result it’s a lot cheaper.)