I am a morning person. I always have been. This doesn’t mean that I leap out of bed with a cry of gladness at the sound of the alarm. Far from it. But once I’m up, I’m up. And I am more productive in the morning, no doubt about it. My brain works faster and I’m more motivated to get things done. And yet, despite knowing all of this, I have never tried writing when I first get up. Never. Until this week.
It started like this: I noticed the hashtag #5amWritersClub appearing now and again on my Twitter feed. My first reaction was a natural one: “5 am? They have to be kidding.” But it began to intrigue me. Perhaps I could give this a try.
The advantages were obvious:
- I would be the only one awake in the house, meaning it would be quiet. And quiet is my favourite soundtrack when I’m writing.
- It would be dark outside. No distractions outside the window.
- No other chores would be calling to me. Nice.
- I could be finished by 7 am and still have the whole day in front of me. Even better.
Unfortunately, the possible disadvantages were just as obvious:
- It’s winter here in Australia. 5 am is a cold, dark, unfriendly sort of time. I’m not sure we’d get on with each other.
- I’d have to go to bed by 9pm at the latest in order to get enough sleep. I don’t know if I could discipline myself to do that. Even if I did, it would probably take me hours to fall asleep, rendering the whole effort pointless.
- Could I write anything good at 5am? Could I even think? Morning person, yes, but still…
The idea kept tugging at me. The #5amWritersClub seemed a very encouraging group and I was attracted to the idea of joining them. I’d be part of a tight-knit community, drawn together by adversity, helping each other along… and that’s when I noticed it. All the tweets were coming through into my feed late at night, not early in the morning. The 5am writers were in a different time zone. To join them in real time, I’d have to be writing between 10pm and 1am. Not going to happen.
It was a disappointment. I wasn’t sure I could do this thing on my own. And then I found the #6amAusWriters. Same time zone and a much friendlier starting time. I made contact and was warmly welcomed. I was going to do this thing.
On Sunday night, I set my alarm for 5:40 am, giving me time to make the necessary coffee before I started writing. I was excited. I’d give it a week and see if this early morning writing suited me.
EXPERIMENT: Early Morning Writing
Write from 6am to 7.30 am five mornings in a row.
Add at least 600 words to my first draft each morning.
Writing first thing in the morning will enhance my efficiency and my enjoyment of the writing process.
- Write for 90 minutes
- NO checking emails
- NO social media other than Twitter
- Only look at #6amAusWriters, NOTHING ELSE, and only 3 times in the writing period.
- Writing only: NO research, reading, updating references, or other busywork.
- NO revising of previously drafted scenes.
Heater on, coffee made, I’m at my desk at 5.58 precisely. No movement on Twitter yet. I decide to write for ten minutes and check again. I’m aiming to add 600 words to my first draft this morning, allowing myself 90 minutes because I don’t outline and my first drafting is slow. I usually average 450 words an hour. After ten minutes, I make contact with the group. I feel pretty good. Write. Twitter. Write. Twitter.
Words Added to Draft: 769.
5:55am. Yesterday’s success has made me eager to start. Not many of us on Twitter today. We’re a small, select group, we early morning writers. Still, I give and receive encouragement and keep writing. I discover I really like working when it’s dark outside. It’s like I’m in a little world of my own. When the sun comes up, it’s a bit of a disappointment, to be honest.
Words Added to Draft: 676
6:03 am. A little bit late and I’m not the only one. Seems like everyone has had a bad night. For the others, it’s mostly babies keeping them awake. For me, who knows? Just one of those nights. I think I got about 4 hours sleep. Regardless, back into the writing.
Words Added to Draft: 1178 (!!!)
6: 05am. Slight headache and sluggish feeling. No idea where I’m going with this scene. One painful sentence at a time for the first 30 minutes. Then it starts to flow. I complete the scene and immediately start another. My headache seems to be gone. I check in with my fellow early morning writers. I’m not the only one feeling tired. A few words, a couple of GIFs and I switch my attention back to Scrivener again. In the end, I’m happy with the session, but I make a note to do some broad outlining of the next few scenes sometime today. That should make it easier to get back into it tomorrow morning.
Words Added to Draft: 930
6.00am. I get up before the alarm because I can’t sleep any longer. It seems I’m already getting used to this early morning thing. Check Twitter. No one else yet. Sip coffee and read over what I wrote yesterday, sternly ordering myself not to edit it. If I start doing that, I won’t be able to get into the drafting mindset. I think I know where to go from here, but not sure of the details. It’s slow going this morning. Just reading over yesterday’s scene has put my brain in editing mode and I can’t seem to get out of it. Keep changing words as I type. I give it up for a moment and check in with Twitter again. A few others are there now. I like their posts and go back to my draft. I think I need more sleep. This is only going to work if I go to bed earlier than usual. I knew that but I haven’t been doing it. Today it’s catching up with me. Finally make my 600 words just before 7:30am, lowest count this week.
Words Added to Draft: 617
I LOVE WRITING EARLY IN THE MORNING.
Yes, it’s cold, but I have a heater and hot coffee. Yes, it’s dark, but the darkness turned out to be my friend. Like my #6amAusWriter friends on Twitter.
Most importantly, I’m getting good results. My word counts are up. An average of over 500 words an hour. On most days, the writing has been flowing.
But I have to start going to bed earlier.
I’m definitely going to continue. I’m even thinking about moving my starting time back to 5.30.
When do you prefer to write? What’s great about that time of day (or night)? Would you ever consider writing at 6am? 5am? Earlier? I’d love to read your answers in the comments.