When I was a fresh-faced and earnest young undergraduate, the pastor of the evangelical church I attended at the time said something that has stuck with me long after I drifted from his particular theology. In response to a group of bleary-eyed congregants sneaking in late to Sunday morning worship, Pastor R proclaimed from his pulpit, “Preparation for worship starts the night before.”
It was a lesson I didn’t initially appreciate. As a college student, I procrastinated as much as any other student, which often meant staying up late to finish work I should have done earlier. Although I wasn’t much of a party animal, there were plenty of Saturday nights when I stayed up late doing homework: going to lengthy church services on Sunday meant doing a double-dose of homework on Saturday night. Still, Pastor R’s advice made sense to me intellectually. If you want to be bright-eyed for Sunday morning worship, you shouldn’t stay up late on Saturday night. It’s a simple matter of cause and effect.
I no longer go to lengthy Sunday church services, but I’ve finally come to realize the wisdom of Pastor R’s advice. Preparation for teaching, I’ve learned, starts the night before. If I want a busy teaching day to start smoothly, it helps if I pack my lunch, arrange my books and papers, and choose my outfit the night before. When morning comes, there’s always so much to do and plan–so many morning woulds clamoring for attention–so it helps if the basics are already laid out and ready to go.
During this month of NaBloPoMo, I’m learning that preparation for daily blogging also starts the night before. Last year, I learned that producing a month’s worth of illustrated blog-posts is easier if you’re in the habit of stockpiling images to use on days when light and inspiration are sparse. This year, I’m taking my practice of planning ahead even one step further. In addition to shooting extra pictures to use on a proverbial rainy day, this year I’ve tried to write an initial draft of each day’s post the night before. Knowing that I have a literal head-start on each day’s blog-post makes it that much easier for me to finish and publish that post.
Instead of reverting to the procrastinating ways of my college days, it feels reassuring to know that on any given November morning, I have photos and at least a rough draft (rather than a completely blank screen) to start with. I may have drifted from Pastor R’s evangelical theology, but I’d like to think that my newly acquired habit of starting something important the night before would make him proud.