Make Your Bed Every Morning

I was recently reading an article by Tim Ferriss, the creator of the wildly popular 4-Hour Series (4-Hour Workweek, 4-Hour Body, 4-Hour Chef) where he lists his 5 Morning Rituals to Help You Win Your Day. After asking 100+interviewees about morning routines, he came up with some similar themes. One of them struck me as a particularly poignant, no-nonsense, and simple ritual that could very easily be applied to the writing life.


How does this help a writer succeed? Because it is a simple act that not only teaches you how to develop a habit, but it allows you to create a sense of calm, order and peace in your life. Writers have a tendency to live very much inside their head and this can sometimes feel like a chaotic and confusing place to dwell. By creating a calm environment, writers can feel more in control of their lives.

Ferriss goes on to quote Naval Admiral William McRaven’s commencement speech at the University Texas at Austin:

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

The thought of churning out 70,000-100,000 words in order to reach that elusive goal of completing a book seems daunting and overwhelming. But as Anne Lamott famously explained in her enormously popular writing book, Bird by Bird, you need to break things down into manageable tasks.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” – Anne Lamott

E.L. Doctorow had similar words of wisdom, “[Writing is] like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Ferriss, and William McRaven, offer some good, solid advice for writers at every level. Writing is a habit that needs to be developed over time. Be consistent and write every single day. One word after another, after another, after another will help you reach that seemingly impossible word count and get you that much closer to achieving your dreams.