Writing at Night; or, does the time of day affect your productivity?

writingatnight

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,

Stu x

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

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Weds poetry prompt: ‘blackdog.exe’

blackdog

This week’s prompt: Write a ‘sick’ poem

blackdog.exe

I feel like a corrupt file
Searching for its place
In an uncaring space
That only permits perfection
Into its hallowed conception,
No room for a wretch like me,
Tainted by the cruel infirmity
Of flawed mood and mind,
Never able to quite find
The code of contentment,
Instead, stuck in resentment;
Sickness through self-doubt,
Unable to act or speak without
Second-guessing myself;
It ain’t good for my health
But right now it’s all I know
This deep spiral of sorrow.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M</a

My Writing New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

new-years

So I haven’t been as active on this blog as I would have liked in 2017, besides the annual April PAD and November PAD Challenges, of course. I would like to remedy that in 2018, as well as be a bit more disciplined and active with my writing in general. In that spirit, these are the resolutions that I would like to achieve in 2018:

  1. Produce more content for the blog

As I said above, while I have been posting my poems for both of the annual challenges from Writer’s Digest and also the Wednesday Poetry prompts, I haven’t posted much else this year, or at least not consistently. Should I keep posting more of my selections from my writing/feel good playlist? Continue with the yearly retrospectives? (which I haven’t been doing since 2016, whoops). Did people enjoy my Monday musings? Clearly I need to figure out a tighter focus for the blog, with regular posts for certain days of the week, but also ensuring I have enough time for my other writing pursuits. Should be easy, right? (Right?)

2. Establish more of a presence on social media/online in general

This is the part I have always found tricky, as I’m sure many have, getting your name out there and trying to promote any books that you have published. For the record, of course there is my blog here but I am also present on other sites as well, all of which I most likely need to be more active on, so watch this space:

https://www.facebook.com/speacockwriter
https://www.facebook.com/scribblingsofstu/
https://twitter.com/sppeac1987
https://scribblingsofstu.tumblr.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_BuDzfH3nh3J5xlCHw6awQ

3. Submit more poetry for publication and competitions/put another poetry collection together

awakening-headerpic

So as you may already be aware, I do have one poetry collection already available – The Awakening, which you can purchase in both paperback and E-book formats. You can also get a tasty sample in the form of the opening poem here. I have entered a few poetry competitions here and there, which earned me a place in the Poetry Rivals 2016 collection  But this year I aim to put together another poetry collection with the intention of getting it published, as well as submitting my chapbooks from both the 2015 and 2016 November PAD challenges. I also intend to be more active in submitting to poetry magazines and journals.

4. Continue being active in the Open Mic/Spoken Word circuit

I did begin to achieve this in 2017, as the video evidence shows:

I’m fully aware I need to work on my performances and confidence on the stage, but I am eager to improve and get my name out there in 2018…

5. Work on my novel, as well as the short stories I have on the back burner…

I have been working on and off on a novel for the past 3 or so years, and would really like to get back to it in 2018, as a lot of my focus has been on poetry as of late (not necessarily a bad thing, but I am eager to have a published novel at some point, as this has basically been a life-long dream of mine). While reading back over some of it makes me wince a little now, and the story most likely needs a lot of reworking, it is a story I really want to be out there in some form or another. There are also some short stories that I have begun and left on the back burner, so it would be nice to work on these too…

6. Read more!

This is always an important part of being a writer, and as you may have seen I have made efforts to discipline myself and get through the books that have forever been on my ‘To Read’ pile. (again this is another part of the blog I have been neglecting, apologies!). A big part of that for me, I think, will involve not getting distracted by my phone or various other screens quite so much, so wish me luck in that…

7. Start that other blog I’ve been meaning to for ages…

Shenmue_series_logo

On a perhaps unrelated note (but still semi-related!) I am a bit of an obsessive fan of the video game series Shenmue, and now that the long-awaited third game is finally a reality, my passion for the series has inspired me to write about it (a book even may potentially be coming in the future). In that spirit, I will be starting a blog about the series, with the provisional title of ‘Shenmusings’…so if that happens to be of interest to you, watch out for that…

And with that, I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year. Any other writers out there got resolutions of their own?

Until next time

Stu x

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

A Letter to Those in Low Spirits (World Mental Health Day 2017)

world-mental-health-day-1

This is a poem I wrote for Writer’s Digest November Poem a Day (PAD) Challenge back in 2015, which I thought would be appropriate to repost today, as a hearfelt message to those who may be afflicted by mental health issues, or struggling with depression or similar demons. Please read on after the poem for some of my own thoughts about mental health and the perception of it in today’s society…

A Letter to Those in Low Spirits

For all of the people
That can’t face the day
Or break free from
The feelings of dread
That tether you to your bed,
This is an open letter
To tell you, you are loved
And that things will get better.

For the writer of this letter
Is too, a long-suffering soul
Who knows well that pain
And the unbearable noise
Of contradictory thoughts
That thrash away in your mind.
To be terrified yet weary
All at once, the harshest torture.

I know the painful paradox
Of being afraid to fail
With no energy to even try,
Or craving companionship
But still seeking solitude,
To care to the point of crying
But then feeling numb to it all.
I’ve known all this, and felt the fall.

But please know this,
That the blame lies not with you
And that you are not alone.
I write this to reach out
To my fellow sufferers
Who toil and struggle on
In a black and white world
That will never truly understand.

If you’ll take my hand,
I’ll deliver you from darkness
And help you find the light inside.

Yours sincerely,
A Soul Ailed by the Daily Monsters of Disquiet and Desolation

***

I’ve always been passionate about raising awareness of mental health, and am frequently frustrated by the stigma and negative perceptions it faces in society today. While we have come a long way from the days of everyone with mental illness being branded a ‘lunatic’ and locked up in asylums, and thankfully away from such horrors as lobotomies and electroconvulsive ‘therapy’, I feel we are still a long way from everyone fully understanding and appreciating mental health being just as valid and important as physical health. It may well be easy to tell someone who is feeling depressed to ‘pull yourself together’, and insist that they pull themselves out of bed and ‘get on with it’, but the simple fact is that they most likely can’t, despite how much they may want to do so and continue as ‘normal’. I know just how relentless the black dog of depression can be, just gnawing and gnawing away at you until you feel numb to everything, and have perpetual feelings of anxiety (deciding the worst-case scenario will happen, getting worked up over this and then demeaning yourself for being so stupid later when it doesn’t happen – a near endless cycle unless you are able to pull yourself out of it), so I can relate when others are struggling. While for me personally it has never got to the point where I have had to stop working or had it derail my life significantly, I have experienced enough to know that looking after your mental wellbeing is one of the most important things, and how vital it is to get support if you find yourself unable to do it on your own. I am currently studying a course around Mental Health Awareness for my job and am pondering working in this field somehow in the future, as this should not be the only day of the year where awareness should be raised. We are not so easy to criticise or belittle those afflicted with physical illness or disabilities, so why should it be any different for those with mental health problems? Be part of the solution and do what you can to help the cause; let’s end the stigma and stop trivialising and overlooking what is a serious issue in our society.

***

Read my previous posts around mental health, including my potential poetry chapbook themed around mental health, ‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (hopefully to see publication soon!)

‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (possible poetry compilation)

‘The Darkness Within Writing’

Weds Poetry Prompt: ‘Versus Yourself”

‘The Power of Music and Rain (A Moment of Reflection)’

2017 April Pad Challenge Day 8: ‘A Mind Under Attack’

2017 April PAD Challenge Day 9: ‘So What Now?’

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

‘Beyond the Diagnosis’ (video)

This is a video of me performing the poem, ‘Beyond the Diagnosis’ – which is about celebrating autism and the uniqueness of people on the spectrum. This was a performance as part of the spoken word stage at an event organised by the company I work for (I’m a support worker for people with autism), and is me truly speaking from the heart. I am aware I need to work on my performance a little, try and be a little more natural – but I hope the overall message comes across.

This is the poem in text form:

Beyond the Diagnosis

Continue reading

‘Forest of Fading Years’

Evergreen_Forest_Background_by_StoicLewy-309

(I submitted this poem for a competition where it was required to write a poem around the theme of ‘hope’ – unfortunately I did not win, but thought I would present my work on the blog anyway – ‘hope’ (groan) you enjoy)

Forest of Fading Years

I think back to tender days
When time was a thousand trees
In a forest filled with mystery,
Free from the throes of supposed maturity.

I recall the nights of nothing to fear
Only dreams of chimerical cheer,
And when the elusive angel of sleep
Could sooth me far more easily.

Now, in this desert of muddled years
Dark and light thicken together
Into sands of confounding grey;

These memories are the thirst, my hope
That my bitter and tired tongue
Shall taste a drop of innocence again.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Soundtrack of my Life (Writing / ‘Feel Good’ Playlist (Vol. 3)

feeder-tender
From the music video for ‘Tender’ (Feeder)

So I have previously posted a selection of my favourite songs that I would put within my ‘Feel Good/Writing’ playlist, (see Vol. 1 here and Vol. 2 here) as I find having music to listen to while writing really helps get my creative juices flowing, and the songs are also ones I like to listen to when I need a bit of cheering up after a rough day – basically, they give me positive and/or creative vibes all round. While working on the next post on this subject, which concerned songs released in the period of 2004-2007, I instantly found myself taken back in time to those years, which for me was when I had just finished sixth form (college) and then went on to study at university. This was a time of a lot of change and transition for me, given that I would also be moving away from my hometown (only an hour away, but still), and also that I turned 18 in 2005 – I was becoming an adult, my childhood slowly slipping away from me, both mentally and geographically. Therefore they were quite uncertain times; on top of that, while at uni I was still figuring out my sexuality – coming to a head in my second year when I finally realised and accepted that I was gay. In short, I was really figuring out who I was at the time, which has obviously shaped the person that I am now, some 12 to 13 years later. As I said, the songs that I have in my Media Player library from this time instantly transported me back there, to simpler (yet somehow complicated) times, and I became very wistful and contemplative about everything. Just goes to show the power that music can have, and how it frames certain periods of your life!

At any rate; the first of these tracks was ‘Breakaway’ by Kelly Clarkson. Now, a singer like her, an American Idol winner, is not someone who would usually be to my taste (not to sound snobby or anything), but I was drawn to her music for some reason, and one of my favourite tracks ended up becoming ‘Breakaway’ – and again, given that it was recorded specifically to be part of the soundtrack for The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (shudder), I guess that this song would count as a guilty pleasure of mine. But it really did speak to me at the time, being a song about change and getting away and moving on – from the mention of ‘growing up in a small town’ to the regret suggested in ‘wanting to belong here’; this was something I struggled a lot with in my school years, sincerely valuing the few friends that I did have. At the time I was hopeful that university would bring a positive change in my life and with it, new friends, and I suppose this song was a comfort to me at the time, while I waited to see if this would come to fruition. Apologies if this comes off as overly sappy and sickening, but this really is what this song does to me! Quite brave of me to admit to over the internet, you may well argue…

Continuing the theme of talented female artists, another song I listened to a lot at the time was KT Tunstall’s ‘Another Place to Fall’. A bit different from Clarkson’s offering, this one has quite a relentless angry energy to it (‘Are you blind? Blind to me trying to be kind?’) . I think at the time it was my outlet and (private) release of aggression about the more negative people in my life, just one of those great ‘fuck you’ songs that is always satisfying to listen to.

As you’ll have seen in my previous posts, I am a big fan of Coldplay – well, to be specific, what they were producing at this specific time; I am not the biggest fan of their latter works. At any rate, X&Y was, and still is, one of my favourite albums of theirs, in particular the tracks ‘White Shadows’ and ‘Fix You’. The former just has that haunting, yet exhilarating sound that characterised a lot of their early offerings. It’s a song I found (and still do) find reassuring, somehow – it emphasises how we are all ‘part of a system’ and a plan, that there is a bigger picture out there beyond our often petty human concerns (I’m sure we all have our moments of being ‘tired of the human race’). Also as I’m still in the process of figuring out my life and what I want, somewhat, I find the lyric ‘Maybe you’ll get what you wanted/Maybe you’ll stumble upon it’ both reassuring, but also perhaps dripping a little bit with sarcasm – given the title of the song I suppose it’s appropriate it has that contradictory feeling to it…

The song segues seamlessly into ‘Fix You’, obviously one of the band’s more famous tracks. Again it’s one of those songs that manages to evoke depression and reassurance at the same time, and I can very much relate to ‘feeling so tired but you can’t sleep’ and being ‘stuck in reverse’. We all have those moments where we feel stuck or on autopilot and desperately trying to figure things out, and this song assures us that this something that everyone goes through. After all, those ‘lights will guide you home’ eventually.

Finally, ‘Tender’ from Feeder, another band you will have seen me gush about in previous posts, was a song I’d often find myself listen to while I was daydreaming of one day finding ‘the one’, my true love (after I’d figured out that yes, I did indeed prefer men). It’s just so hopeful and eerily sad at the same time, all coming to a crescendo with the chorus line, ‘The loneliness has gone’. Again, call me a sentimental idiot if you must, but this song always gave me hope after each and every relationship or almost-relationship that didn’t work out, that one day I would find the right one. Happily I can now say with confidence, that I finally have, and will take those new roads together with him. Yeah, yeah I know, I’m sure even he will be reaching for the sick bag after reading that. At any rate, these are the songs that I feel characterise the wide-eyed, often naïve and foolish, but well-meaning, me that was beginning to enter adulthood. Even now at the ripe old age of 30, I still feel like I’m mostly pretending and ‘winging it’ with the whole adult-ing thing, but I’m sure experience and music will show me the way like it always has.

Anyone else have songs that take them back to certain times in their life, evoke memories good or bad? Let me know what makes up the soundtrack of your life 🙂

 

Check out my debut poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M