You Don’t Have to Wake Up at 5 a.m. Every Day to Write — But That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t

Some strategies take a little trial and error before you get them right.

My alarm goes off at 4:25 every morning.

I don’t brag about this. I’m not proud of it. And, most days, I definitely don’t enjoy it.

But I know of plenty of writers and “productivity experts” who do. Some of them even insist that you can’t reach your full potential unless you wake up early and start the day as the sun rises.

It’s the #RISEANDGRIND culture. And it hurts more people than it helps.

So I’m hyper-aware of the fact that, as someone who offers writing advice to the masses, I subscribe to this extreme structure of living.

I have to be careful not to make it sound like setting a stupid-early alarm every morning is the right — worse, the “only” — way to make writing happen six days a week.

Because I don’t want anyone, especially writers newer to their craft, to think they have to start their days at sunrise to become successful creatives.

It’s not realistic. A lot of the time, it’s unhealthy. And it could seriously damage your writing career before it even has a chance to take off.

Why do I wake up before 5 a.m. every day, if it’s such a poor philosophy? Because I found, through trial and error, that it is the best way I can ensure I maintain joy and balance in my life.

I am most productive before noon. Therefore, the earlier I wake up, the more I’m bound to accomplish.

I technically have three jobs — one that pays the bills and two that make me happy. There’s a lot to do in a day — and that doesn’t include exercise, which I need more for mental health reasons than anything else, food, fun, and taking care of my six-month-old husky (basically like having a toddler).

Oh! And this blog! I love doing it, but y’all wear me out. You ask a lot of questions. I love that, too.

I make it work, because I know it works for me.

Still, I recognize that many people don’t want to, or can’t, get up early and write before work, or get all the day’s mundane tasks completed in the first two hours of every day. And it’s something you need to remember, too.

It’s OK if that’s not what works for you.

But it’s also OK if that’s what does.

Writing experts will tell you waking up early for the sake of productivity is stupid. And that not waking up early is a waste of time. There’s a reason you can’t take every piece of every person’s advice to heart.

They know themselves best, but they don’t know you. They don’t know how you operate, when you’re most and least productive, when you’re most and least likely to get writing done on any given day.

Experiment. Figure out what works best for you, and stick with it.

If that means waking up at 5 a.m. or before, well. I’ll see you at sunrise.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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4 thoughts on “You Don’t Have to Wake Up at 5 a.m. Every Day to Write — But That Doesn’t Mean You Can’t

  1. When I read the title, I almost couldn’t believe it. There were people out there that advice the whole “wake up at sunrise to get be productive” for writers? But, I’m glad I ended up reading through the post, because it helped me realise not to feel so guilty for being more productive before bed than after rising from it.

    I’m first and foremost a night owl, and so I have an disconcerting amount of energy and focus in the evening and late at night. I’ve learned to take advantage of that, and instead of waste more time changing the way I was wired, I now know spends those hours being as creative as I wish.

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