Hemingway woke up every morning at 6:00. Early to rise, Ben Franklin got up at 5:00, so did Oliver Sacks. Haruki Murakami rises at 4:00.

Balzac’s writing day began at 1:00 in the morning, he would go to bed at 6:00 PM. F. Scott Fitzgerald dusted off the cobwebs around 11:00 AM.

Brain Pickings has a list of the sleep habits of 37 writers. The conclusion: no one routine predicts success, although early risers seem to win more awards.

For the past two months, I’ve been waking up every day at 5:00. I don’t have to, that hour is not my creative sweet spot, and I am not a morning person. But the impact on my work has been undeniable. I haven’t taken any mid-week days off in two months, and it’s never been easier to start writing even when I’m exhausted. What’s changed is my attitude. Sleeping in is easy, hitting snooze is easy. By rising uncomfortably early, I’m forced to start my day doing something that doesn’t feel great but pays off later. This sets the tone for how I approach the initial discomfort of the blank page.

If you’re interested in getting up early, check out  war hero and jiu jitsu master Jocko Willink. He gets up at 4:30 and frequently Tweets a picture of his Timex watch displaying the hour. Jocko’s personal philosophy is “discipline equals freedom.” For him, that discipline starts with rising early.


Side note: Don’t say  “5:00 AM in the morning.” AM means morning. It makes me crazy when people say that.