Yesterday morning, I had a sugar hangover, and it was difficult for me to get moving in the morning. As I used to wake up ALL THE DAMNED TIME with some level of brain fog, I have many strategies for waking up my brain and getting moving in the mornings. I’ve actually had to use these strategies a lot recently, while I was sick.

So I figured I’d share them, see if they can help anyone else.

— Blogging. Writing a blog first thing in the morning has turned out to be one of the best things I can do to get my brain re-engaged. Some mornings I’ll write a blog and not post it. It’s just getting the words down that’s important.

— I have games on my phone that I play specifically in the morning, just to get my brain engaged.

I play them in order. I play a single game of each. It generally takes between 15-30 minutes, depending on the morning. I don’t tend to play these games on good mornings, when I’m already awake and able to write.

The first is Wordscapes.

Though it calls itself a crossword puzzle, it isn’t, as there are no clues. It’s more like anagrams. You have between 6-8 letters at the bottom of the page, and you put them together in different combinations to spell out words.

Playing this game gets me thinking about words. It’s possibly more difficult for people with a large vocabulary who have studied foreign languages, as they always want the easiest, most obvious word first, which isn’t what my brain automatically reaches for.

Remember, I’m an unconscious writer, writing from my back brain. I will find myself spelling out words with my finger before my conscious brain has engaged, not figuring out what the word is until I reach the end of it.

They have a daily puzzle, and I only allow myself to play that in the mornings. If the puzzle is taking too long, more than ten minutes, I start using hints.

Because I played this game enough, I went ahead and bought the ad free version.

The second game I play is Sudoku. Again, I have the paid edition because I do play this game a lot.

I play at Moderate level, no pencil or hints. My fastest time is 4:08. My average time is 8:26.

I will play a single game of Sudoku on rough mornings. If the game is going longer than 10 minutes, I’ll start using hints.

Sudoku isn’t about numbers. It’s about pattern recognition. I’ve found that frequently, once I’ve found most of the obvious numbers to be filled in, I’ll hone in on a single square that, once I solve, the rest of the puzzle just comes together.

I can’t tell you consciously why I decide that particular square is the one to solve. It’s unconscious pattern recognition. It’s re-engaging the writer brain even though it’s numbers.

One thing I’ve learned – it doesn’t matter how easy or hard the games were that morning. If I have difficulty finishing the games, solving the puzzles, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to have a bad writing day. And sometimes the games will be easy and I won’t be able to write worth shit.

What does matter is whether or not I’m able to easily put the phone to the side and jump into the words. I’ve developed good habits with the games on my phone. I play one each, for a short period of time.

If, when I’m finished, I can immediately turn to the writing, it’s a good day. My brain has re-engaged and I am able to write.

If, when I’m finished, I find myself wanting to play one of the other games on my phone, it’s not as good of a day. Sometimes I can still get in more words, though they might be slower. Other times, I can’t. My brain will not engage.

Again, I don’t play either of these games when I’m already awake, like this morning. Just the blogging is enough. And the caffeinated tea.

I don’t know if these strategies will help others. So I’ll ask you – what do you do to wake up a foggy writer brain? What helps? What doesn’t?

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