The 5:00 a.m. Writers’ Club

There are only so many hours in the day.

Anna Burgess Yang


pop art illustration of the sun rise over mountains and the valley at sunrise
Image created via Midjourney

I have always been an early riser, greeting the day somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. No alarm necessary; I naturally find myself stirring around that time.

Last year, I really began to savor this time before the house stirred. I would drink my coffee, write in my journal, read. Only about 6 weeks ago, I took up watercolor painting. I would use that precious early morning time to paint, usually while listening to an audiobook.

My 7-year-old son will usually appear by my side somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. Still in his pajamas and rubbing his eyes, he would murmur a “good morning.” I will give him a hug and a kiss and then gently shoo him out of my office and into the kitchen, where he will make himself a piece of toast, or wander into the living room.

Everyone else stirs closer to 7:00 a.m. Or, I should clarify, the toddler is up early, but she plays quietly in her room until my husband wakes and gets her ready for the day. At 7:00 a.m., I use the network of Amazon Echo devices in our house to announce “Time to wake up!” (including a rooster crow). At that point, we need to begin moving to have everyone ready for the school day.

I have liked my gentle morning routine for a long time. In most instances, it is quiet, and I am at my most alert for the day. When I added painting, I also felt like I was accomplishing something.

A few days ago, I had an idea for a book. This is on top of an idea that I have had in the works for about two years (enough to have a “shitty first draft” — borrowing a phrase from Anne Lamott). I was excited about my idea.

I told my husband, but told him that I could not figure out how to squeeze writing into my day, at least not in the way that I could turn out meaningful work. He is a computer programmer, so he understood: he likened it to when he is working on code, and really needs hours and hours of focus to flesh out an idea. He is lucky that he is paid to do what he enjoys…. mine, however, falls into the “hobby” category. I have barely touched the draft of my first book since my toddler was born.

I bemoaned the lack of time to write to a fellow writer-plus-professor friend. She told me about a…



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur. Niche freelance writer. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. •