5:30 AM Writing

I’ve started a new habit: I wake up at 5:30 AM to write.

The alarm goes off at 5:25 AM, and then I drag myself out of the bed to fire up my computer, open StoryMill, hit Command-Shift-F for full-screen, and start typing away. I haven’t gone through the ones I’ve written yet, but they’re usually just a couple of paragraphs each, with typos all over the place (I hear Typinator going off about once every other minute, correcting my typos). That’s what happens when I type with sluggish hands and with my eyes closed.

Why am I doing this? Basically for two things:

  1. to train my body to write creatively again, and
  2. to find out which kind of writing I instinctively fall back on when most of myself is still not functioning properly.

I got this activity from Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. I seem to remember talking about this a long while ago, but as I can’t find that entry, I must be dreaming (I swear I’m fully awake now though). In chapter 5 of the book, she tells us that we “must teach the unconscious to flow into the channel of writing”.

So if you are to have the full benefit of the richness of the unconscious you must learn to write easily and smoothly when the unconscious is in the ascendant.

The best way to do this is to rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can–and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before–begin to write. Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it; the activities of the day before; a conversation, real or imaginary; an examination of conscience. Write any sort of morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically. The excellence or ultimate worth of what you write is of no importance yet…your primary purpose now is not to bring forth deathless words, but to write any words at all which are not pure nonsense.

And so I write. I’ve actually “cheated”, and I think I know the answer to #2 (what writing type I fall back on) but we’ll see how this goes. In any case, I don’t see any pattern yet in my morning writing; it should come out in a month or so, I’m gauging.

The good thing? As early as now, I feel like I’m finding what my writing voice is. I already know, in a way, but I’ve written in the same “voice” at least thrice already (and I only started this week). Writing while my brain’s still muddled with sleep has its rewards, for all it’s difficult to get words in order sometimes. :D


  • Thanks, Kya! I use StoryMill, but I haven’t really gotten too well-versed in it yet–just really starting out. It looks rather promising though :)

  • That is really interesting and such a good idea. I find that a lot of what I write does sometimes end up in a muddle. Probably because I have such odd hours, and my mind is always spinning around in some unknown universe.

    I think it will be really good for you and I know what you mean about the voice. I had times when I kept trying to find it and was pushing myself to write in different ways, but I realised it’s too alien to do that. I just have to keep writing and see what falls naturally from my finger tips and what suits me and flows well.

    I also thank the world that writing programs exist. I use one called The Journal. I used to try and do everything in Word documents, but that made sorting and filing everything such a pain in the bum, grr.

    Good luck! :D

  • I’m hoping it sticks, too! There are a few other things I want to try out, but as they always say, if you want to start new habits, you should do it one new habit at a time. :)

    Thanks for the layout compliments!

  • Love your take on trying to get up earlier everyday to write. I am thinking about trying that too. If I didn’t have the day J.O.B., I’d have little to interfere with writing whenever I wanted. Ah, but that is another story. I am curious to see how long this lasts for you — if you can really make it a working habit. Will check back!


    P.S. I like your layout.