Successfully Waking Up at 4 AM

Time for an update on what is arguably the craziest goal I’ve ever set. Starting on January 2nd, my first day back to work after the holidays, I committed to waking up at 4 AM and getting to a local café around the time it opens at 5 AM. The 2nd and 3rd were a success, but that was only the beginning. How did I fare this week?

Monday:

high
Screen shot of the weather on Monday from Weather.com

The high on Monday was -3 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m sorry, but when the high for the day is in the negatives, I go into hibernation mode. I have no concept of a world outside of my warm apartment and mounds of blankets. Still, I set my alarm for 4 AM. Before going to bed, I talked with D, who was very worried about the cold. This kind of weather really worries him. He all but begged me not to drive on the roads at 5 AM.

I woke up with my alarm, feeling sluggish at the thought of the cold day ahead of me. After eating breakfast, I grabbed my notebook and got to writing. Dear followers, I confess I only write about half a page before I stopped. It was abundantly clear to me that I needed my method. I needed the café atmosphere and the smell of coffee in the air. I need to spread out my laptop, notebooks, sticky notes and pens across my work area and consume myself in the material. That just isn’t possible in my apartment. If I had all the money in the world, I would have a two bedroom apartment for myself. The second room would act as my study. Man, I can’t wait to have a study.

Long story short, Monday wasn’t much of a success. What can I say, I’m a work in progress. I regret that I let the cold get to me. Now that I know how important the café atmosphere is to my writing muse, I will fight Mother Nature that much harder to get there every (weekday) morning.

Tuesday:

Sticky notes have become my best friend. When I write, my mind has a way of running ahead of me. I am not exaggerating when I say I see some scenes as clearly as if they are real. In a few seconds, the whole scene has passed and I write as if remembering the event I just witnessed. Sometimes, I will struggle with where to start the scene. Where is it going and how to I write it so that it leads to the events I want the story to head towards? I accomplish this with sticky notes. I write out a quick summary of the mental scene I just experienced and figure out how it fits in with the rest of the story. I then stick this note wherever I need it to be.

This also works as a reminder. If I am on a roll but out of time, I can write a summary of my ideas on a stick note. This makes it easier to pick up where I left off the next day. I used a lot of sticky notes on Tuesday. My notebook is turning into a frenzy of notes. It probably makes little sense to anyone but me.

Wednesday:

My body has already started to adjust. I’ve started to wake up on my own a few minutes before 4 AM. Even so, I still hit snooze for 5 minutes before I actually make my way out of bed. Honestly, waking up this early isn’t much different than waking up at any other time of the morning. The main difference is that, instead of my first though being, ugh, another day at work, I think, yay, time to write!

Today was a bit slower, though. Even though I was looking forward to the café, I just didn’t have it in me. What I wouldn’t have given to sleep in. Still, I was out of that bed at 4:05. I feel a responsibility to my dreams. How can I say I want to write a book if I’m not willing to make the sacrifices I need to?

One more challenge met me when I arrived at the café. I was in an editing mood. It is far to early for me to try and type out what I wrote. Once I start editing this thing, there will be no going back. This urge slowed me down and generated more scribbled out words in my notebook. I was more thankful than ever for this blog because editing blog posts I have planned gave my urges a much needed release. Once past that, I made my way to the beginning on what will be an intense scene. I owe it all to this song. It was the perfect song to throw me into the moment. 

Thursday:

I hit snooze twice before getting out of bed. Really, it’s my own fault. I’ve had a hard time getting to bed at a reasonable time. There was a bit of anxiety today because I was writing an intense part of the book. I’d call it the first pivotal moment. It was one of those scenes that I could see. More than once I caught myself staring off into space. I was trying to find the right words to convey the exact actions I was seeing. My sticky notes saved me a few times when my imagination went wild on me. They allowed me to write a simple version off all I saw that I then detailed in the notebook.

I finished my first chapter today and am very happy with how I ended it. The last sentence was written with pride. I’m not going back to re-read or edit anything, though. No, I will wait until it is all finished. Now that I’ve overcome by tendency to edit while I write, I feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. I can say I’m writing a book with confidence.

There’s still no good way to summarize what I’m writing a book about. I might have to finish the first draft before that comes to light.

Friday:

Que fail.

I had a bad dream last night. It was one of those dreams where, once you woke up, you still saw it every time you closed your eyes. My eyes tried desperately to close on me, but I wouldn’t let them. I rolled over and started a DVD to calm me down (everyone keeps their laptop on their nightstand, right?) and eventually fell back to sleep. For many reasons, I need to be alert today, so I let myself sleep in until 5.

Not only did I not wake up at 4 AM today, but I didn’t do any writing for my book. Instead, I focused on a few future blog posts and the book I want to finish. Technically, I still focused on writing today. I may have slept in and gave more attention to my muses than my work, but I think I can spare Friday given how successful I was this week.

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4 thoughts on “Successfully Waking Up at 4 AM”

  1. “I needed the café atmosphere and the smell of coffee in the air. I need to spread out my laptop, notebooks, sticky notes and pens across my work area and consume myself in the material”

    okay so that paragraph encapsulated who I am as a writer. I don’t know what the hell it is but I feel that all my best stuff is written at a café or coffee house. I try writing at home and I dunno…but I never feel inspired…and when I look at what I’ve written at home I’m like, ‘well, its not very good’……

    what the hell is it about writing away from home???? I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why I thrive on the smell of starbucks or any coffee house……there’s something about walking in and sitting down at a table (and their tables are so damn small but I love them!) that totally gets me in the mood to write.

    i dunno…i simply don’t get it….but it works for me.

    (p.s. i woke up at 2:30 am this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep lol, so i commented on blogs and read a bit till 4:30 then took a shower and went to coffee……i seriously have problems I’m sure)

    1. I have high hopes that, someday, I will have a house. In this house will be a Beauty and the Beast style library and/or study. Then I might be able to write from home.

      As it is, I wish I had a two bedroom apartment. The second bedroom would be my study. I’m not sure if it would work or not. I’d want a long flat table, as opposed to a desk. There would also have to be a coffee pot somewhere…..

      I think it might be the studious atmosphere. Even in college, I couldn’t get anything done in my dorm. It didn’t matter what I had to do, I wanted my own private cubical in the library to work.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that all writers have their quirks. Cafés and written word happen to be what I thrive on. There’s no need to question the powers that be. Just let the muses do their job.

    1. And I’m the opposite. Once 9 or 10pm hits, my mind is gone. I used to wake up early to do school work because I knew nothing would get done in the evening.

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