Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rediscoveries--The Writing Process: Time of Day

Many writers and writing coaches I know or have read say that morning is the best time to write. When I was in college, I used to stay up all night, writing into the wee hours of the morning but didn't get much done in full daylight. Partial cause was, indeed, procrastination and looming deadlines, I'll admit, but I also simply thought better at night; the flow of words and images was stronger and clearer. Maybe it was the silence, my roommates all asleep, outside traffic practically non-existent in our little residential neighborhood. Or maybe it was the assurance of no interruptions, the security of isolation in my basement chamber at a time of day when I knew no one would need me; no one would call.

Nineteen years later, I still write most easily late at night. Yes, maybe procrastination is still a factor (my NaPoWriMo emails have gone out after the midnight deadline two days in a row, now), but even that aside, night is still my favorite time to write. Great Scott! and the girls are asleep, and the house is a small one, so no housework can be done without waking them, thus I'm relieved of the obligation to attend to the practical household matters--the omnipresent bane of any sort of creative concentration I might attempt. No one calls. No distractions present themselves. The night is mine.

I've tried writing in the morning (i.e. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way recommendation), but there is never enough time, and mornings demand a great deal of concentration as it is. There are two girls to get up and feed, errands for which to prepare, sometimes meetings to attend, and lots and lots and lots of things to remember. There are pressures and insanities in the morning, and while insanity may have inspired a great many writers, this one thinks it's highly overrated as literary motivation goes. Unless one is writing about large, overcooked oatmeal monsters, that is. Mornings are excellent motivation for large, overcooked oatmeal monster works. Angry large, overcooked oatmeal monsters. Angry, large overcooked oatmeal monsters who can't find their car keys and who have 8:30 a.m. appointments with the school speech pathologist. Oh, yeah.

One of the books I've been reading about organization (You! Yes, you! Quit your snickering!) advises its readers to consider what things they do that work well for them already and to build on those things rather than chucking everything out the window and trying to adopt someone else's system, whether that system be for time or environmental organization. Perhaps I need to stop trying to write on someone else's body clock, to stop feeling guilty for my wee hours production. Because, it's working: I'm four for four in rough draft turnout, a totally unheard of thing.



alaiyo said...

I find the same thing is true for me. The very thought of writing in the morning makes me exhausted and frustrated. Creativity does not exist in the morning, unless a revised handout for the 8:00 class counts. :)

But at night, after everyone else is asleep and no one will bother me . . . then I can think, and then the words can come.

One more reason to lament being in the Eastern time zone. All the shows people around here like to watch begin at 10:00, so that the silence I need ofen doesn't come until well after 11:00 -- at which time I am so physically exhausted that it's hard to stay up and write, no matter how furiously the brain teems with words demanding a voice.

I can't figure out morning writers with family members. I can't write with any seriousness if there's even the possibility that someone will pop his head in and say something to me. The remotest possibility of interruption seems to paralyze my brain.

Cindy said...

I wonder if this is a "momphenom". Certainly anyone with children lives their days on call and perpetually braced for interruptions.

Cheryl of the Freezing Wilds of C said...

I am at my musical best late at night. I used to practice into the wee hours of the morning. In retrospect, I am amazed my family tolerated it. Apartment living changed all that.

I think I am more emotional at night. The musicality comes easier. The silent house allows for the vulnerability of expression. I know when someone interupts me it is very jarring and leaves me feeling unresolved (I don't know if this makes sense). Would it be the same for writing?

Cindy said...

Cheryl--Yes! This is it exactly: "The silent house allows for the vulnerability of expression. I know when someone interrupts me it is very jarring..." Oh, thank you for putting it into words! There is definitely a vulnerability factor at work and an increased intensity of emotion.

I love creative-type friends!

ka said...

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I've added your name in the hat.

Enjoyed your post. I do all my writing at night and have stopped even trying to write in the morning.

I had issue w/the morning pages in Artist Way as well. I get SO much more done at night. I think some people are early birds and some are owls. I've stopped trying to put on my early bird wings and just enjoy the moonlight.


Cindy said...

Kelli--Considering how much you've accomplished, that's really saying something. I shall put away the pens in the morning posthaste and chuck guilt out the window and begin enjoying my owlishness.

Thanks for stopping by.

alaiyo said...

"The silent house allows for the vulnerability of expression. I know when someone interupts me it is very jarring and leaves me feeling unresolved."

I agree with Cindy this says it exactly!

Lauren said...

You know, I recall reading a study or something when I was in High School regarding when the mind was most creative. And it is actually supposed to be right before you fall asleep.

Unfortunately it is true for me, anyhow. Too many times I will be almost asleep and get some wonderful line in my head, or plot idea, of a character.. or worse.. a beading design! Then I have to get up and write it down or I forget it by morning.

And... the night time also suits my poetry better :;evil grin:: since it is mostly all dark and gloomy.

Good to see you posting again. I guess this means I should stop goofing off with my website and get to my blog as well, no?