Here’s my problem, and I’ve been analyzing it for some time: I write best at night.
It’s 1:01 am right now and here I am writing. It may not be very good writing, but I’m writing and that’s what matters.
I need to write.
That’s why I’ve been cranky. That’s why I’ve been feeling hopeless. That’s why my blog’s been dry. I haven’t been writing on a regular schedule because I write best at night.
So write at night! What’s the issue?
The issue is that I can’t afford to be an insomniac writer anymore. I used to stay up into deep hours, my brain on fire for as long as my fingers and eyes could keep up, sometimes until dawn.
But jarring adulthood has thrust me into the arena of full-time employment—the arena of bus and car and train commutes, where every morning I’m surrounded by fellow worker bees clutching their coffee cups with drowsy faces, eyes still puffy from sleep that hasn’t worn off yet.
I am now the rush hour traffic.
And when I come home at night, I’m tired of the computer screen. I’m tired of the sitting. I’m tired of the to-do list that won’t detach from my hip. I’m just tired and I want to unwrap my brain from its knots, and I don’t feel like writing just yet.
I walk my dog. Make my dinner. Eat my dinner. Do the chores. (Wow, imagine if I had kids. Hats off to all the mom writers out there.) And by the time I recenter myself and open up my laptop, it’s 10 pm and my bed starts whispering… tick tock… the time for sleep is near… and I don’t want to sleep—not yet—so I rebel: I type away, I type and I type till I look up and see the time and it laughs in my face and says something like don’t you have to wake up in four hours?
So when am I supposed to write if I write best at night?
As an insomniac, I hated the night. It was lonely, maddening, a time of hallucination, but also—and I didn’t realize it then—a peak time for my creativity. At night I can zoom into my words, my world, my brain, uninterrupted, because I need silence when I write. The night is my writing cocoon.
But my lifestyle doesn’t allow for this nocturnal love story anymore.
And I’ve tried to be an “early bird”, and you know, mornings aren’t so bad; they’re pleasant, actually. They too have their element of peace and quiet. I love coffee. I love tea. I love breakfast and brunch. I love sunlight—I love windows flooded with sunlight.
But mornings are just not me. Mornings make me want to be outside and breathe the air and get active—not sit down to confinement.
Writing is discipline. Half the work is just getting yourself in the chair—holding yourself hostage to the task. The other half is to not hate yourself as you write so you can keep on writing. Suppress that voice of the oppressor, as Anne Lamott said—the perfectionist in your ear that snickers at your ugly first draft.
So that’s my problem, fellow bloggers. And this is not an excuse to not write regularly. I need to reprogram myself somehow.
How do you do it? How do you harness that discipline and hold yourself accountable to a writing schedule? It’s not that I have to force myself to write—I’m just struggling to find a time frame that works for me.
What kind of writer are you?
An insomniac writer?
A morning writer?
A between-house-chores writer?
A stay-home-on-the-weekends to write writer?
A writer by full-time employment?
A writer who types away secretly at work and minimizes the document when someone walks by?
A writer with multiples jobs who still manages to write, thereby shrinking me to a sorry, whiny bucket of excuses?
Under what conditions do you write best and how do you set yourself up for success?
What struggles do you face when it comes to carving out your writing time?
And do you have any advice for me?
I need to get some sleep.