During the daytime and evening, I can think and muse and search for things to write about and different ways to present them without much luck. Why do I wake up at 4 a.m. knowing exactly what to say?
It’s not a new phenomenon. When I was teaching I’d have the best ideas for the classroom at about that time. Before the invasion of the PC, I’d write them in longhand. Later on, with a light-touch keyboard, I could type away and email them to school.
There are lots of bulleted help lists for writers. Neuroscientists who have studied the creative activities of early birds state that biological evidence supports rising early to compose. It is related to dopamine pathways of the limbic system, or something like that. Practical people just say that in wee hours of the morning, we’re in a better mood because it’s quiet, we’re rested, and we haven’t had t0 deal with people yet.
On the website http://www.brainpickings.org there’s a chart correlating famous authors’ wake-up times and their achievements. Ray Bradbury and Stephen King were the later risers, which makes sense, because extra sleeping time would be needed to describe horror and sci-fi. Or recover from it. The chart displays this disclaimer: “No specific routine guarantees success.” I concur, from observing student writers for many years.
Several people have mentioned the helpfulness of coffee during the still-dark hours of the day. It seems Beethoven used to write music then, with 60 beans worth in his cup.
Then there’s the guy who extolls the advantages of getting up early to write, beginning at 6:30. 6:30? That’s when I take my morning nap.