1.) Sit down at computer with coffee. Stare at a long list of due dates, a blank page, and a blinking cursor, and thus willfully search for distraction.
2.) Read about how successful people start their days, and feel totally inadequate for not playing a rousing game of tennis at 5am and then writing while standing up at a lectern.
3.) Feel stressed. Read about ways to relieve stress.
4.) One of the tips for relieving stress is thinking about a time when you were happy, or imagining a future time when you will be happy. Thus, start thinking about your upcoming wedding. Realize you haven’t finished selecting the readings. Decide suddenly that you want a reading from Zbigniew Herbert. Get up and begin searching your bookshelves for his collection of poems.
5.) You don’t find Herbert, but you do find Paris Spleen by Baudelaire. You haven’t read this yet. Wonder why you have not read this yet. Wonder why, on earth, you’re reading a pulp mystery when you could be reading Baudelaire.
6.) You’ve forgotten about writing. Tell yourself you can’t read Baudelaire until you’re finished writing. Go back to the computer. Deem stress relief unhelpful in this particular situation; maybe you need to be stressed to do this.
7.) Return to those powerful people, the ones who get up before dawn. Consider Anna Wintour’s hair for a minute. She runs the world and has time to do her hair. Both things sound equally exhausting to you, someone who can almost never be bothered to do their hair. But anyway, all these powerful people take really good care of themselves, and that must be the trick.
8.) Realize you can’t do anything great before breakfast. That is a fact. Make boiled eggs on toast.
9.) Your mom makes boiled eggs on toast. Your mom used to make it for you on Sundays, before you drove back to college. Driving back to college was the hardest thing you could imagine doing at the time, and you did it with a lump in your throat and the image of your future fiance waving to you at the end of the driveway–all brown eyes and blue jeans and that faded Red Sox hat– searing your mind and burning horribly in your chest, but at least you’d had a good breakfast, so you would take a deep breath and drive, even if you cried the whole way. Realize this isn’t nearly as hard as that. Realize that, if you could get through that, then you so totally can run the world someday (but still may or may not be willing to do your hair.)
10. Feel damn lucky, and write.
Perfect Boiled Eggs: (everyone’s a fan of the five-minute egg these days, but this is what I grew up with. It gets them perfectly done with no green around the yolk.) Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for exactly 17 minutes. Then drain out the hot water and fill pot with ice and cold water. Peel ‘em and eat ‘em on toast with salt and pepper.