What Does 5am Look Like?

In three weeks, I return to full-time teaching after two years off to have a baby and finish my MFA. So I find myself lately staring at the calendar and trying to plot out when, in any given week that includes 40+ hours of work and all the other life stuff like kids + meals + marriage + friends + exercise + episodes of Girls and Homeland, I’m going to sit down and write.

In order to be a productive writer and a happy human, I need to spend between 10-15 hours a week writing or pretending to write. The calendar doesn’t lie… my days are going to be really full once I go back to work, and the only open slot is the morning. And by morning, I mean before anything else happens. Before my kids wake up. And my kids wake up at seven. The part of the morning most of us prefer to call night.

I have a theory that the secret to success in pretty much anything is the willingness to wake up early. Successful people often make use of those dark and cold hours that unfold while sane people sleep. If you read about the lives of Olympic athletes and CEOs and Barack Obama and UN Envoys and even many a successful writer, very few of them describe their routine as rolling out of bed at 8:08am and arriving to work 42 minutes later with morning breath and their faces still lined with pillow creases. They talk about 4am, 5am, 6am. They talk about “relishing the quiet” and “all they accomplish” in those early first hours. They all get up early and love it. By the time I’m reaching for the Shreddies, they’ve already put in four hours of toil. A**holes.

(I also have a theory that waking up at 5am will turn me into a troll. A mean, withered, exhausted, ugly-on-the-inside-and-on-the-outside troll.)

Any which way, starting in February, I’ll be waking up early two or three days a week to write. I hope it will keep me in the game, keep my pen to the page as I devote the rest of my workday to teaching, a job I love and am not ready to give up any time soon. This is the only way to do both.

Either it works and I’m able to keep up with 10-15 hours a week of writing on top of everything else, or I do become a troll. Or both. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.