So, a couple of years ago I mused in this post about what makes a writing space, and what my own personal set-up is. I notice that in that post, I alluded to the work taking place ‘whenever I could find a few spare hours in the day‘. Funnily enough, lately I seem to have stumbled upon the benefits of doing the opposite – i.e. writing at night. Take last night in particular – it was a Sunday evening, just after 9pm; my partner had already gone to bed because of having work the next day – I did not, so I thought, well, why don’t I go and sit in that spare room and try and get some writing done now – then in the morning I’d actually be able to enjoy my day off and relax a little bit. Because this seems to be the trap I have fallen into as of late – waking up so determined to get as much work done as possible, and then feeling guilty later as I have either managed to get very little done, or nothing at all – the lure of video games and other distractions just proving far too tempting for me. However, after waiting until the quiet calm of the night, I suddenly found myself being so much more productive. I finally made a start on writing a draft for a blog post, for a separate blog I intend to set up soon that is centered around an all-time favourite game series of mine,(so I was writing about a video game, rather than being distracted by one – I mean, that’s ok, right?) managing to bash out a good 1,500 words. And then I even began planning a future blog post! I really was amazed at how much more productive I was being, simply because of the time of day.
I did notice that in that previous post I also made reference to a ‘Writing Timetable’ that I had stuck on the wall – which I must admit, I have since abandoned. But perhaps that was putting too much pressure and stress on me, therefore leading to a lot of disappointment and self-chastising if I didn’t keep to that rigid schedule. I completely understand that for other writers out there, it may well work splendidly – and obviously I assume that if you have made it big and produce works certain to be published then it’s something of a necessity – but at the moment, I feel a lot more freedom without it, simply choosing to dedicate any evenings where I don’t have work or other engagements in the morning to sit down at that keyboard and see what comes out.
I posted about this on both Facebook and Twitter, to which a fellow WordPress poster and writer suggested the night breeds productivity because the day is now behind you – allowing for more concentration, and I do think there is something to that. I find during the day if I attempt to write, I am constantly looking at the clock, thinking, oh bloody hell, it’s already almost noon and I’ve barely done anything…you just feel more like you’re under a time limit, or you end up using lunch and dinner as excuses to stop even if you’ve spent most of your time procrastinating or looking out the window. It sounds crazy, but I find the weather something of a distraction too – if it is raining or miserable outside, I’m fine, but if the sun is out I keep thinking, oh dear, I should be outside getting some exercise or going for a walk, and suddenly feel like an antisocial hermit for daring to stay inside hunched over a computer screen when it’s such a beautiful day outside (not to mention the glare, which guilts you even further!)
A work colleague, who also went to university as I did, posited that those late nights doing coursework and frantically trying to finish essays before the deadline may have something to do with your future writing habits as well – something I hadn’t considered, but again, it does make a lot of sense. While I don’t continually have deadlines to deal with now (except my own self-imposed ones, and ones for submitting for competitions..), the quiet calm of night does seem to more beneficial for writing. Curious to see if there were any online discussion about this matter, I did find this post, which likens writing to a ‘long immersion in a hot tub, or a relaxing meditation’ – making night the ideal time to let it loose, as after all, isn’t it the daytime that you experience the things that then influence your writing? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just be during the day, and then write down any feelings you had about it when it’s over and done with, after you’ve had a chance to truly soak it all in? The post also offers some handy tips about the art of writing at night – including making a plan, and stressing that it’s okay to take breaks. Thank God for that – my anxious and overly self-critical mind had assured me that it wasn’t okay at all. I realise that may sound like sarcasm, but it honestly isn’t – I really am that hard on myself (working on it, honest…)
So, what do you other writers think out there? Am I talking complete rubbish? Do you have the mettle and self-discipline to effortlessly thrash out several thousand words during the harsh daylight? Or are you a night owl like me, who would rather sit down and do it once he’s in his pyjamas and everything has just goddamn calmed down a little bit? Anyway, must dash – it’s already 10:40pm and I need to get back to my rambling thesis about what a masterpiece a nearly 20-year old video game is…
See you on the other side, writers of the night,
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