I have a love-hate relationship with getting up early. I have never been “a morning person.” I love to stay up late, I hate to go to bed, but in the morning, the reverse is true, I hate to get out of bed and don’t want to get up. The most difficult part of my day is from the moment I wake up until I get out of bed. I just want to roll over and go back to sleep. In many ways, I’m just still a child.
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve forced myself to get up early so I can get my writing done. It’s worked, and here I am at July 22nd, not having missed a single day. My writing has come farther in this six-and-a-half month stint than all the previous years combined. I have 63 posts this year and I have 44 drafts I’m working on for the blog. I’ve started a novel, and I have a 10,000 word eBook that’s almost finished. I owe it all to two things, I’ve committed to writing every day, and I’ve gotten up early to get things done. I currently am getting up at 4 AM so I can be all done by 7 AM to start my day job.
Before the world has bothered me
That’s the backstory. Today, I wanted to write about the beauty of getting up early. For a writer, there is no better time than first thing in the morning because nothing has invaded my thoughts for the day yet. I wish I could get over hand-making my coffee, as that would put me on the keyboard 15 minutes earlier, with less time for my mind to wander. But in that 15 minutes, while I’m pouring 200-degree water over coffee grinds, waiting for gravity to do its thing, I force my mind to think. I don’t grab my phone and start scrolling. I may check my work emails to see if there are any fires, but most days, I’m able to keep even that at bay. The hordes will just have to wait until I’m ready for them today. This morning time is where my brain is at it’s most fresh, it’s least interrupted, it’s most purely me. This is what I want when I sit down to write, I don’t want influences that haven’t passed through the filter yet. If I went to bed with something stuck in my brain, I try not to write about it, because I want my brain to mull it over for a while first. Usually a few days. I find that I have deeper content if I let my subconscious really go to work. That doesn’t happen for me overnight.
While the world still sleeps
The other thing I love about the early morning, and this is one of the few universal truths, the world is still asleep early. Sure, there are the random odd truck drivers screaming by, but there are much fewer of them at 4 AM than there are at 6 or 7 AM. There’s even less bird activity, even nature is still asleep, and it’s a wonderful, peaceful, meditative time. This again aids my goals because there are fewer things to distract me. There are no birds singing away at my window, there are no dogs howling, there’s just the odd car or truck, but there are huge lapses between passing vehicles that are chunks of nothingness. We get so much stimulation all day long, it’s these times that allow me to really sink into the depths of my thoughts without being interrupted, either by good or bad. That allows me to get into a rhythm much more quickly, and I think, get to my core much faster.
I’ve recently increased my daily minimum count because I’ve found that 500 words aren’t quite enough now for me to get as deep as I want to go most days. Without trying, my average count was 860 words, so now I’m pushing myself a little to get to 1000 each day. It should, however, increase my editing time because I need to be cutting back at least 10% of what I write before it gets published. I’m still an immature enough writer that I have a tough time “killing my darlings” as Stephen King likes to say. But I believe what he says. After having re-read On Writing from the viewpoint of an actual writer, not someone looking for the magic ticket, I get it now. I do two things every day to move forward – I read and I write.
I reserve the quiet of the mornings for writing. I’m about to leave for another trip, and I’ll get up early on the road, too, although this week I’ll be in the Eastern time zone, which is an hour ahead for me. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to try to stick to my schedule of 4 AM or stick to 4 AM central time. It all depends on when I have to get started each day. And then Friday, I have a 7:20 AM flight, so most likely I’ll just get to the airport early, and do my writing from the airport or on the plane. But I will miss the early morning stillness of the hotel. I can get some of my best work done at 4 AM in a hotel. That’s a different time zone altogether. So few people are getting up really early. You’ll have a crew that gets up at 6 AM so they can work out. And a crew that simply rises early – I’m never sure what they do, I don’t find many being quiet once they wake up. Most people turn to the TV – the polar opposite of being productive. Your mind is fresh and clear and the first thing you do is clutter it with CNN or Fox News – what a shame and waste of a blank slate.
But let’s be honest here, most people are not comfortable with silence, or themselves. I’ve come to terms with both a long time ago. Hence the name of my blog. I’m a hopeless romantic at 49 years old. Hope and romance are for the young. I’m completely out of place in my own mind and my own personality. But, it’s who I am, and who I will always be. I have enough biases floating around in my head, I don’t need some outside interpretation of what’s happening in the world to influence me even more. So when I get up there are two things I want – coffee and a keyboard. That’s it. Add the quiet to that, and I’m a happy person. 30 minutes of solid writing is enough to allow me to refill whatever drained out of me the previous day. I can easily get 1000 words down in that time. Then I can move into editing and polish up posts for publication, or whatever comes next that day. But it all starts with the quiet time and writing. I never thought I’d say this, but I love getting up early. I love what it’s done for me. I don’t see me changing that any time soon.
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