My phone plays the opening notes of “Good Morning” from Singin’ in the Rain.
It’s 4:55 a.m.
I turn off the sound and slip out of bed. I make a cup of coffee or tea and power up my laptop. I have a text from my friend Kelsey: “Gooooood morning!”
It’s writing time. And that makes it a very good morning.
Back in high school, I was eager to hop out of bed each morning. I’d do my pilates video or go for a bike ride before I got ready for the day. On a school trip, one of my friends drew a comic strip that featured me greeting the birds.
Somewhere in my early 20s, something changed. Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation most of us chose in college. I still liked mornings, but I didn’t bounce out of bed with the birds anymore. I snoozed for five minutes, ten, twenty, and scolded myself for having to rush out the door.
I was frustrated. I wanted my beautiful mornings back.
I also wanted more time to write. I read article after article about building a writing routine, whether that meant committing to a certain amount of time or setting aside a specific part of the day. But I wasn’t doing a very good job of applying all that advice.
My friend Kelsey and I decided to try something new: getting up at 5 a.m. to write. She lives in Texas, and I’m in Missouri, but we would wake up and write “together.”
She blogs faithfully and is working on a dystopian trilogy. I freelance and am working out some novel ideas. (Stay tuned!) We’ve both written children’s book manuscripts, which we hope to see published eventually.
We’re also both busy. She’s a stay-at-home mom with two young girls. When we started this adventure, I was teaching high school.
We chose 5 a.m.
It might sound ridiculous, but we knew that time would work. I could get some solid writing done before work, and she could have quiet writing time before the girls woke up.
We decided on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays we would sleep in.
But a funny thing happened. We got hooked, absolutely addicted to these early mornings. Without talking to each other about it, we started waking up early on Thursdays and Fridays, too.
These early morning writing sessions feel magical, but there are a few practical reasons they work.
Writing has always been a priority, but I wasn’t treating it like one. Now that I’m getting up at a certain time to write, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is part of the routine, not just something I squeeze in. That consistency has given me a new sense of clarity. I develop better ideas because I can think more about what to write, not when to write.
Some people do their best work at night. Others prefer afternoons. There is something I enjoy about writing the night away, but I do my best work first thing in the morning. I feel fresh and calm. I’m not thinking about stress or the errands on my to-do list. It’s just me and my words.
There’s not much excitement in eating breakfast, packing a lunch, getting dressed, etc. But writing is an adventure. It’s a chance to explore new thoughts and ideas, a chance to be creative. I get to start the day with something I love.
As much as I enjoy this new writing routine, there are still days when it’s hard to get up. I’ve overslept a couple times, and we make allowances for travel or unusually late nights. But knowing that I’ve got a commitment with someone else helps me keep going. And having a friend to share the writing journey with makes it that much more rewarding.
What about you? What does your writing routine look like?