Godawful Early Schedule Week One

Well, friends, not much about this week’s attempts to get up early surprised me.

Exciting, right?

The potential benefits of getting up a bit earlier and getting some work done are unquestionable. The house is quiet. The kids are still asleep. It’s work time when I don’t feel like I’m supposed to be doing anything else.

Best of all, it’s work that’s done before life has a chance to throw curveballs at me. On Tuesday I had a dentist appointment and a whole bunch of errands to run in the morning, and then a migraine hit in the afternoon and I ended up spending several hours zoned out in a dark bedroom.

But before that, I wrote 1441 words. I’d only worked an hour (I’d let myself rest in bed an extra half hour before I got up because of that threatening headache), but I got words written on a day that would have been a total write-off on my old schedule. 1441 words isn’t a lot. It’s not a scene. With the way this book is going, it’s not even most of a scene. But it’s PROGRESS, and it’s a day when I didn’t totally lose momentum.

Of course, getting up at 5:30 hasn’t been easy. I only make it out of bed because my alarm clock isn’t within arm’s reach and I have to stand up to shut it off. And then I just kind of stand there, swaying on my feet, staring into the darkness, trying to remember who I am and why this little black box is yelling at me.

Oh, right. Brayn make werds nao. Kay.

Even on Friday, after 8.5 hours of sleep, I had trouble getting up. I was only actually up at 5:30 two days last week (5:45 on Monday as I started shifting back, 6:00 on Tuesday and Friday when I got up, had a big drink of water, and attempted to shake headaches). But I expected this to be hard, so that’s okay. I’ll get there.

Getting to work in the early morning has been a challenge, especially on the few days when I’ve let myself pick up a book to read while the kettle was boiling. Note to self: Don’t give distractions, even positive ones, an inch. They’ll take your whole morning. Even without that, my usual tendencies seem to be in high gear even if my brain’s not totally on yet. Procrastination and wasted time are real dangers*. And when I do start, I feel slow and dopey. But words are coming out. So that’s a win.

Also not surprising: Evening exhaustion. But given the fact that I regularly crash at 6 PM anyway and migraine weeks are always worse, I’m not putting this in the con column yet. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring.

One unexpected result: On mornings when I did manage to work 90 minutes in the early morning, I didn’t get many more words than I did on 60 minute mornings (at least, not as many as I should given my usual words-per-hour average). Over the next few weeks I’ll watch to see whether that changes–and if not, I’ll look at letting myself sleep until 6 and working for an hour, instead. But I said I’d give this schedule a month. Anything could happen.

Total hours worked: 22.2 (including writing, scene planning, and several hours brainstorming my way out of plot and character problems)

Total words added to manuscript: 11,467

Note: Friday was a write-off, so to speak. Post-migraine wooziness kept me from writing early in the morning, and then a neighbour offered to take me out to see a good spot for berry picking. One simply does not refuse an offer like this.


Nature’s candy. Seriously.

So obviously getting up early isn’t some magic bullet that will instantly rocket me to writing half a book in a week. It’s not doing anything to help me overcome the “nope” that regularly keeps me from getting stuff done, and working first thing in the morning doesn’t seem to provide any momentum to keep me going later. And that’s okay. This is all about baby steps.

On to Godawful Early week two.

*It’s so weird. I can perfectly visualize what I want my work hours to look like. What I’d like to get done, how I want my brain to switch gears smoothly so I can do the thing that I know I should do and want to do. I know how good I’ll feel if I get it done. I can see this other version of myself making tea in the morning, stretching out those sore back muscles, appreciating the quiet, lighting a scented candle, cracking her knuckles, and getting back to what’s shaping up to be an amazing book. But it’s like I’m watching her through a window, and real me over here on this side just doesn’t do the things. Like someone’s got a halter on my brain and is pulling its head off course every time I try to do the things, directing me toward things I don’t want or need to do at this moment. I fight, but it hurts. Frustrating thing, this. And exhausting.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with five cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. www.katesparkes.com www.tanithfrost.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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