In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

I have boundless energy at about four-thirty in the morning. Mental energy, that is – not necessarily physical, though that varies. But lying in bed at that hour – which is, incidentally, about the time Magnus the Cat decides he’d like to snuggle (usually on my head) – I can move mountains with the power of my mind. From climate change to home decorating to a dazzling array of get-rich-quick schemes that, at that darkest-before-the-dawn hour, seem completely viable… All of these tend to demand they be heard just when I’m longing for the dregs of a good night’s sleep.

These ideas range from inventions to book ideas to blogs to web-based reality shows. From online magazines to niche-market Kombucha operations. At that hour, I rarely long for something small or quiet or easily managed, all of which are my default positions in the clear light of day. God forbid I just think to myself, “Gee, how about if tomorrow I start a blog?” No, no, no. It has to be the biggest blog. With a corresponding website, multidimensional logo, podcast, and theme song to go along with it. Early-morning Jen does not know how to go small.

Most of these inconveniently timed idea-paloozas are spawned by financial worries: Is there enough from book royalties this month to cover mortgage, student loans, medical bills, car insurance, unexpected computer repairs? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything to put away for retirement, much less for the dream of buying cute little eco-friendly cottages for my Mom and Dad one day soon.

I wonder, sometimes, what would happen if that bold and fearless 4:30 a.m. Jen Blood were unleashed on the waking world. What if I just let her take the reins for a while, focused on a new craft Kombucha that would set the world on fire? The problem with this, I suspect, is that 4:30 a.m. Jen Blood is a fickle beast. What seems perfect one early morning is discarded as too daring or too drab the very next day. A plan that I’m sure could motivate a generation to end climate change seems downright bizarre by the time I’ve had my morning smoothie. I envy people who have an epiphany once a decade, and know this is The Thing they must act on – like that scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise wakes up in the middle of the night, writes a manifesto, quits his job, and ends up with a sweet new business and 1996 Renee Zellweger in his bed. Epiphanies are much less clear cut when they strike three or four times a week.

There are times, however, when the same idea wakes me up rarin’ to go before the sun rises for consecutive days in a row – sometimes for a whole week. When this happens, it’s generally a safe bet that this is an idea worth acting on. The Flint K-9 series came to me that way. Nearly twenty years ago, in fact, I believe that’s how Erin Solomon was born.

Do other writers go through this, or are all their mad morning ideas more fiction focused. Does Kate Flora, for instance, have wild plans for revolutionizing the American flower market through some growing secret she has yet to share with the rest of us? Is Susan Vaughan plotting real-life bank heists when the sun comes up? Or am I alone in questioning the financial viability of this path I’ve chosen, and looking for creative ways to supplement my income until the day something magically coalesces and all the bills are paid without a single early-morning thought as to where that money came from?

It’s now 5:51 a.m. at the homestead, and it appears I’ve run out of answers at this point. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a question: When do your moments of inspiration strike? Have you had a eureka moment that you did end up acting on? How did it turn out for you? Comment below, and let me know.

Jen Blood is the USA Today-bestselling author of the Erin Solomon Mysteries and the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. Learn more about her and her work at 

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8 Responses to In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

  1. Jacki York says:

    Moments of inspiration: in the shower! Never fails!

    • jenbloodauthor says:

      Absolutely! That and the bath – both are definitely go-to places when it feels like my brain is stagnating. Good answer!

  2. Barbara Ross says:

    I have never had an idea, good, bad, or indifferent, at 4:30 in the morning. Well, maybe in college, when I’d been up all night, but I think we can safely assume those ideas were bad. I think I read somewhere that geniuses of innovation have hundreds of ideas a day, most of them terrible. It’s knowing which ones to follow that separates the true visionaries from the rest. So it sounds like you are well on your way.

    • jenbloodauthor says:

      I’ve always been more of a morning person, but lately it’s definitely been carrying things too far. I’m pretty sure I’ll never rank among the geniuses of innovation, but it’s nice to know I’m on the right track in picking and choosing my projects carefully!

  3. Kate Flora says:

    Kate Flora wonders about going in a new direction with her writing, she just doesn’t know where, while musing about drawing lessons, tap dancing, learning to sing, doing better photography, and exploring the perennial magic of truckloads of compost. Never mind her plans for a colony of tiny houses back at the family farm. Welcome to the wee hours of ambition club. My philosophy is that if it returns often, you are supposed to do it.

    • jenbloodauthor says:

      It’s good to know Kate Flora isn’t always as steady in her forward movement as she appears! I highly encourage the drawing, tap, singing, and photography, and compost and tiny house colonies (I have one of those in mind myself!) are always excellent ways to pass the time. The Wee Hours of Ambition Club, eh? I’m honored to be a member. Sleepy, but honored.

  4. Amber Foxx says:

    I like your approach to the ideas: Notice the one that comes back. I never have an idea at 4:30 in the morning. I’m sound asleep. My creative flow happens while I’m running. Four miles in the desert, no one around but a few lizards and jackrabbits. I’ve noticed certain ideas come back, run after run. I create a lot of backstory for my characters that I may never use, yet it’s good to know.

  5. Sandra Neily says:

    Ah ha! a compatriot. I have notebooks and pens to hand where-ever I am sleeping because if I have an idea (especially about a human/animal conversation that I include in my stories), I will forget it by the time I actually get up. Although, things scrawled in the dark sometimes have so many overlapping words that I can’t read it anyway. Thanks, Jen! (love the pic)

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