For years I was an owl. No, I’m not revealing a past as a feathery denizen of the night going around eating mice. I mean I was someone who naturally wanted to stay up late into the night and sleep late the in the morning. This meant I was of course never a morning person, and was always dog tired in the mornings. A few years ago, once I got serious about writing, I started to train myself to get up earlier in the mornings and like it. But not to write. So that I could go to work a bit earlier and get home sooner and have more of the evening to myself to write. For a while that was fine.
But lately I’ve been having trouble getting enough writing work done in the evening because I’ve been feeling dog tired and ready for bed by about 9:30. And I keep waking up early and only snoozing until it’s time to actually get up. Finally the answer smacked me in the face. I have become a lark!
Somehow, in the last few years, when I wasn’t paying attention – probably busy deciding what horrible thing to do next to a character – I became a morning person. Is it age? Is it a temporary summertime only phenomenon, where the dawn is waking me up?
So I’ve been trying an experiment. Get up at 5am and start a writing session by 6am, once I have some tea and breakfast in my face. After nearly two weeks of this it’s going really well. I started it midweek, when I was in the middle of drafting a story. The first morning I did over 1000 words in an hour and they were effortless. The weekend came. I got up at the same time and wrote all morning – with a couple of breaks, and did about 10,000 words over the two days! Holy moley!
I also feel better. I feel fine shortly after I get up and especially once I’ve got a nice strong cuppa in me. I feel more awake the rest of the day. I’ve got to make sure I stick to my early bedtime and not stay up late for no good reason, but by 9:30 all I want is to retire with my Kindle or an audiobook anyway. It’s nice and peaceful at that time of the morning – well until the birdman comes around about 6:45. That’s a neighbour who takes a morning walk and always brings a bag of food for the birds, which he happens to empty in the back lane outside my house. So they all show up for the breakfast sitting squawking and flapping!
And oh wow does it feel good to have a big chunk of words done before the day has even begun. Or on a weekend to have the whole day’s worth of writing done by lunchtime. On weekdays I can do another hour of writing in the evening of I want to, or use that time for some promo or blogging, or other busywork. I may even manage to get some exercise back into my routine if I don’t have as much time pressure to do writing in the evening.
I will continue this for a while and see how it goes. I’m editing for the next few weeks, then drafting again, and it will be NaNoWriMo before we know it. This new regime could be a game changer for NaNoWriMo. I can get a big chunk of the daily word count under my belt before work, maybe even the whole thing! They anything else I write that day gets me ahead of the game.
The test will come once dawn starts coming after 5am. Will I find it harder to wake up when it’s dark? Will it indeed prove to be a summer thing? In a way that’s okay. I can work in different ways at different times of the year if I have to. The key is finding the schedule that works right now and switch to something else that works better later, and then come back maybe. But I am thinking about getting one of those alarm clocks that wakes you with light.
Have you ever shaken up your writing routine to this extent? Was it a revelation? Did it stick after the novelty wore off? Have you turned from an owl to a lark, or vice versa?