What Can We Learn From Famous Authors’ Wake-Up Times?

Sunday January 21, 2018 Written by sam

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So the silly season’s over and it’s time to act on those New Year’s resolutions. For folks with literary ambitions, this could mean finally writing the great masterpiece you’ve been talking about forever… or it could mean yet another orbit around the sun with your genius unfulfilled. Your choice.

We get it: the challenge is sticking with your resolution, making it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. Because, as most writers are all too aware, life has a habit of getting in the way.

But even if your life is as unpredictable as Lee Lin Chin’s wardrobe, there’s one thing you can count on every day – getting up in the morning. And if you can commit to getting up at the same time each day, you’re on your way to churning out the words.

Not convinced? Check out this cool study by Brainpickings’ Maria Popova, correlating famous writers’ sleep habits and their published output. While acknowledging the myriad other factors that can affect literary productivity and success, Popova still makes a pretty compelling case.

Featuring 37 celebrated writers known for structuring their daily efforts around a regular waking hour, the study is arranged by wake-up time: from early bird Honoré de Balzac (1am), by way of the famously disciplined Haruki Murakami (4am), through to Charles Bukowski, who snoozed til noon.

Sure enough, a pattern (of sorts) emerges. With some notable exceptions, late sleepers are comparatively more prolific than early-risers, but the latter are more likely to win awards.

All that remains is to pick your favourite author, and set your alarm accordingly. True, it’s not a water-tight, scientifically-proven theory but if it helps create a regular writing routine, then that’s half the battle won.

See you at the Pulitzer Prize ceremony.