Finding the Best Time to Write


IF YOU’RE LUCKY YOU CAN WRITE ANYWHERE AND AT ANY TIME, IN CAFÉS, ON TRAINS, FIRST THING IN THE MORNING OR LAST THING AT NIGHT.

If you’re like me doing anything in the morning that requires any kind of thinking is out of the question. When I  drag myself out of bed and then sit clutching my morning coffee in the living room, I’m not planning to do anything until my brain wakes up. I am never inspired in the morning.

Late Night Kebab

Image by Gerry Balding via Flickr

Yet, between the hours of 11pm and 2am, I’m wide awake and full of ideas. If I put a pen and notepad near to me in the afternoon and think that I should write something today, inspiration will often strike late at night. I wonder if its more that I put the hint there in my mind. I’ve planted a seed that I’m going to write, kept the tools nearby and then was ready when I thought of something.

I once read an article that said that while the brain is engaged in other tasks, like daydreaming or watching TV,  it continues to work on other things. I believe this is true. Anytime I can’t think of something to write, I leave the notebook out and do something else for a while, keeping in mind that I’m trying to think of an idea.

I don’t write down every single idea I have anymore, as I’ve learned that the ones I really think are worthwhile I’ll usually remember but I keep pen and pad near my bed so that when I’m wanting to write, late at night, the option is there.

So, I wonder if everyone has a time when they are most inspired. Some writers will write every morning and every free minute. Others will have long periods in-between writing to think and refresh. Me, I prefer every other day, I revise my novel every other day as well and try not to allow more than three days without at least blogging.

The main thing is to find the right time and the right process for yourself.

Table 43

Image by Mooganic via Flickr

Try to keep it there in your mind that you want to write that day but find the time that is the best for you. If you prefer the solitude and quiet of the night (or late-night TV) but cannot write in public without feeling self-conscious then maybe that’s your time. If you prefer to sit in a busy café and watch the world go by, but hate writing in solitude then that’s just your preferred method.

The point is, that there is no right or wrong when it comes to writing.

Many people will try to emulate other writers processes, thinking that it will work for them because it worked for the other writer. They’ll criticize themselves for not being able to keep it going. But the aim of regular writing is to find your most natural method for you while still working hard. Some people are just slow writers (George R.R. Martin says he is one) and some people are just fast writers. Don’t punish yourself for not being able to keep pace if you’re naturally a slow writer. When you are new to creative writing you will undoubtedly want to look to other writers for advice and that’s great as you can always learn something new, no matter how long you’ve been writing for. 

But remember that you have to find your own way and your own method.

And of course, there’s always the times when you may be hit by inspiration and a sudden urge to write pages and pages at once. If you are, then forget the rules and enjoy it. Those are some of the best times!

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14 thoughts on “Finding the Best Time to Write

  1. Well, I guess, I’m not lucky! I can write anytime BUT that is only if I’m using a computer, or I’m typing!! I know it is weird, but I couldn’t really write any ideas using pen and paper.

    • It don’t think that’s weird. It’s whatever you prefer. I do write on computer as well but my nostalgia for the pen is probably to do with my handedness. I’m naturally a left-hander with writing but I always been taught to use my right-hand with the mouse so, although I can still work on a computer I always feel a sort of comfort returning to writing with my natural hand.

  2. I agree completely. It’s one of the things I talk about in my book. There is no right or wrong way to write — if the process works for you then that’s the right way. Figuring that out is about awareness and self knowledge. Think about those times you’re doing your best work or when it seems to flow easily. What are the conditions and circumstances? What time of day is it? What’s the environment like? Noisy or quiet? Music on or TV? Are you alone or out with others? Did you work out? What did you eat? How did you sleep? Etc. It’s futile to look to others for a “process” that works. You have to look inward.

    • Thanks! I made the mistake once of trying to shift my writing and sleeping patterns to what I thought they should be. I wrote far less than ever before and was constantly tired. I thought back to times when I was always writing and what the conditions were and realised that the previous methods were right for me all along.

      Since that time I’ve have decided that only I can find my process.

      Thanks for stopping by. That book sounds very interesting. x

  3. For me, there is no set time, however, I have found that the hours of 10-2 are the best. Too early in the morning, I can’t think, to late, it is an effort, except when inspiration hits. I try to write everyday. I enjoyed your post very much.

  4. Very nice write up.

    I really do prefer doing a write up in the morning some time, then leaving it for the whole day until traffic and my head is screwed on properly. I’ll then proof-read it and ask myself if it’s good enough to let loose (Usually with some editing here and there).

  5. Every morning after dropping off my daughter at school, I go to my little table at Aqui Es, which translates to “Here It Is,” six days out of seven, and I begin the writing process there, what I like to call my warm-up. Then I walk home and begin working on the bigger projects, the novel and the comic book scripts. Sometimes, my characters keep me up at nights, but mostly, they like to visit me in the mornings. 🙂

  6. Pingback: A geek with a hat » I learned two things today 4.8.

  7. Fun thread. Regarding morning writing, here is my theory on why it works for me. In the morning I haven’t yet had a day’s worth of obstacles, challenges and petty annoyances beating me down. I’m still fresh from the dream state, where anything’s possible. And maybe my internal editor, the one who second guesses every move, is still asleep.

    • Wow, you all seem to be productive in the morning. My brain hasn’t woken up yet. I don’t think anyone dares to even talk to me in the morning. lol. I read this article on the circadian rhythm that Night Owls are more awake at the end of their cycle than the beginning. That certainly seems to be true for me.

  8. Great post! Writing in the mornings has always been easiest for me, but burning the midnight oil has been productive in the past as well. I find the most difficult time to be the middle of the day. For some reason, putting words on paper in mid-afternoon is like pulling teeth, even when I have the idea right in front of me. Interesting how this process is different for everyone.

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