That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Joining the 5am writer’s club

By Karen Charlton

I can hear Ruben stirring – strike that – crying from his room. Either that or a small wolf cub has entered our house, and its howls and yelps are threatening to wake the three remaining family members that are still in their beds. I’m sitting in my office with a Word document open, cursing my walk up the stairs. Had I stood on the creaky step? What part of my stealth stair climb had lifted him from sleep?

I go downstairs to heat the milk, navigating our creaky weatherboard in the dark, flicking the light, avoiding the cat who has now woken too. Back upstairs now, I climb over the timber bed rail and under the covers with Ruben, as he drinks his morning bottle. He’s going through a stage now of asking for bottles often, whenever the mood takes him. We are more likely to oblige if we are close to sleep, at the beginning or end of the day, even though we know it is more out of habit than of need.

I change his nappy, he finishes the bottle and hands it to me. He is still held by a morning sleepiness, and I have every intention of walking back to my study and getting back to work. From the darkness his chubby finger leaps out to form a definite point in front of my face, pointing out his Thomas night light; the wolf cub’s ears have pricked up. This may well mean my morning work period is over. I attempt to make a quiet exit several times, each time he vocalises his displease at this arrangement by threatening to cry. It becomes comical; me, closing the door almost completely, he creaking as the door approaches full closure. We are a comedy duo, and he is the sound effect man.

After four attempts, I close the door slowly and silently and slip back to my office. By now the eco-friendly bulb has heated up and I begin work: writing.

When do you do your best work?

14 Responses to “Joining the 5am writer’s club”

  1. debbrightandprecious

    Karen, it seems I am joining you in the 5am writing club! It’s not what I usually do, but lately it seems that my head spins with ideas unless I get up and write them. It’s quite a peaceful time really. I smiled at your comedy duo act, the creaky step (yes we’ve got one of those too!). I hope you get some good work done today!

  2. catbeloverly

    I raise early to get ahead of the day and often to work, write, sew, study or pluck whatever string to my bow needs plucking. It doesn’t always work because my babes wake early too. I’m so glad you continue to carve out the time Karen as I love your work so much.

  3. Rae Hilhorst

    Well I am reading your post at 5.30am. Love your work, I learn a lot from your writing. Best time of the day, those early mornings when it feels like you have the house to yourself. xx

  4. Lisa

    Late at night, as I’m turning off my computer once the night time stuff has been done, I may get a flicker of an idea, I settle myself into my chair and start writing. I’m sure my husband would prefer if I could turn this into a morning habit.

  5. Shelly

    My boy rises between 5 and 5:30 so there’s no time for me at that hour, as much as I feel it should be my reward for rising early myself. Luckily the boys are getting older and as they need less and less of my attention, I’m slowly carving out a little time for a coffee and reading excellent blog posts such as this.

  6. Kelly Exeter (@kellyexeter)

    I am definitely at my best in the mornings so I too am a member of the 5am writer’s club. And so too does my heart get broken when the solitude and clear head space of those precious early hours are intruded upon by a little one!

  7. sara

    Oh, I love any time after 5. As my children have gotten older they sleep in until 6 or 7 and can even entertain themselves until I walk back from my studio at 7ish. The bliss of an undisturbed early morning start.

  8. Cam @ notunimportant

    I loved this post in April, but didn’t stop to reflect on when I do my best work. The answer is “years ago”.

    I’ve been trying to make it work, for the past few years, on my old night-owl, all-nighter habits. Results have been underwhelming.

    I might take these comments as sign to try the other end of the day. Yet, it is definitely reassuring at night time to know that the sleepers will be gone for hours.

  9. kimhoussenloge

    I remember those times oh so well:) My best writing time would definitely be at about 5am. I love that time of day. Lovely to read this post via Rewind which I must have missed first time around:) x

  10. Donna @ NappyDaze

    Karen, you always write in such a way I feel I am there with you! I need to slot in a distinct writing time, as these days it is all about snatches and grabs of time only, and it is not serving my goals well. Perhaps I will have to join the 5am writers club as well!


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