I’ve always been a morning person. My mother got up (still does today) very early to go to work when I was a child, so I eventually just started getting up with her to get ready for school. Then I joined the Army in 1997 and of course, getting up at 0-dark-thirty is sort of the Army’s thing. I’m not sure I always wanted to be a morning person, but knowing that I have to be up at these hours more often than not, I figured that it made more sense to not be miserable when I have to be up anyway. Dragging around like a zombie didn’t help or change anything.
My wife honestly believes I’m nocturnal. Maybe not per se, because it’s not as if I sleep during the day. There are just a lot of nights that she asks if I’ve slept at all.
The reason for this is that I’m often up and working on my scripts in the middle of the night. Most of the time, it isn’t planned, but I’m up and writing at 2-3 in the morning. It’s not as if I go to bed early, either. It’s just something I’ve become efficient at doing. I don’t set my alarm to be up at those times.
This is not uncommon among writers. For those of us who still need a day job, it can sometimes be quite the task to find the times to write. Even for many of us who make time, finding a balance can be tough, so many of us end up either staying up late at night, getting up super early, or in many cases, just not sleeping at all (as again, my wife believes is the case for me).
I’m not sure if all writers who do this have always been morning people or if they’ve gradually adapted. I’m not a big coffee drinker, even though I know a lot of writers who are, as they put several cups (and/or POTS) away during writing sessions.
I truly love working on scripts and there’s something I really enjoy about writing them at crazy hours like this. Even though I’m often exhausted during the day when I choose to get up in the middle of the night (which happens VERY often when I’m working on a particular project), I still get an amazing rush out of writing when everyone else is asleep.
Part of it is because it’s the one time I don’t feel I’m neglecting anyone. I’m married and have two children, so while I still write when we’re all awake, I can’t help but feel that I should be paying more attention to everyone else. So I may write more when my wife and/or kids are in the shower or working on homework.
I also know that becoming a career screenwriter will not be an easy task, so that’s another reason I don’t hesitate to jump out of bed and get to work. I don’t want to find any of the “easy” ways to get there. I’ve recently written a script that could possibly be very close to reaching a professional actress and one thing I know for certain is that with all the scripts she’s read over her 20 years as an actress, she will certainly know if I decided to cut corners or be “lazy” in any way. That is absolutely not what I want her to see in my work, because it would then be too easy to just reject it. A long time ago, one of my Army squad leaders introduced me to the phrase “hard right over easy wrong.” I know that in order to reach someone who probably barely has time for all the things she has to do each day, I would have to make the reason WELL worth her time. A lazily or sloppily written script will most certainly not be.
Again, I really don’t want to make this easier for myself. I want to take the difficult roads because I truly believe that is not only beneficial, but absolutely necessary in so many ways. I know that I said I enjoy getting up at all hours to write, but it does seriously disrupt my day when I do this. I wouldn’t have it any other way and even though I’ve become somewhat efficient at it, many may say that I make it look easy. It isn’t always that way, though. There are times when I’m exhausted, but my mind won’t let me rest. I know I have to get work done and scripts completed, so even being tired, my mind doesn’t let me off the hook.
I sort of prefer it to be that way. The task of becoming a career screenwriter will be tough enough. I don’t need to train myself to look for all the easy ways to get there. I need to take those “hard” rights and this way, once I do make it, I and anyone I happen to work with will feel I belong. I never want to feel I’m doing just enough to “get by.”
So whenever anyone asks me why I get up at three in the morning to write, my answer is very simple…
…because I don’t want to wait until 4.