Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Writing Time

Morning? Afternoon? Late at night?
When do you write? I used to write when I had time and when the mood took me, and the combination didn't happen very often. Seventeen years is a hell of a long time to write a first book, but it is proof positive that you need several things working for you. Now that I have the luxury of choosing when to write, I've found a few things that surprise me.
First of all, you need time to write. That's almost a given. Then a place to write. I know some people write amid the hubbub of family life, but I get irritated when the tv pricks my bubble of concentration, or the phone rings, so I retreat upstairs to a converted bedroom which now proudly bears the name Jen's study. It's OK - dh has one as well.
Then I need a tidy desk, because I can't work in chaos. It only takes a moment to tidy things away, and then I'm good to start.
I've tried writing all day, and it is wonderful when the story flows, but however good it is, after a few days I drift to a stop, as if the story supply has slowly run dry. A few days doing nothing, and it starts to filter through again. so that means pacing the flow is important for me.
I tried various ways of limiting how much I do in a day. Walk first, when the weather is often best and write after lunch? Yes, its OK. Good to sit down after the exercise.
Write in the morning, and walk in the afternoon? Turned out to be more productive for the writing.
Go out with friends, a day out, and write in the evening? Didn't work well at all. Conversation and new things must have tired my poor brain.
Write late at night when the household is asleep? Sometimes works very well indeed, but it has to be when I can't sleep, when the brain is raring to go at the wrong time of day. I can't sit there after a busy day, feel tired and make the story work.
It seems working in the morning is best for me. It doesn't have anything to do with biorhythms or anything like that. I'm an autumn baby, and if anything, a night owl. I do not wake up in the morning bright eyed and raring to go; it takes me time to wake up and if rushed I can get really grumpy. But by half nine or ten o'clock, I'm usually at my desk, poised over the laptop and my brain, awake at last, is fresh and ready to go. A coffee on the hop mid-morning and I don't stop till noon. That's when my best, most productive writing takes place.
Things will interupt it, and of course I can adapt to suit. But it is handy to know what works best for me and to stick to it if I can. I salute anyone who must write in and around fulltime work and family...it is hard, really hard.

12 comments:

Anita Davison said...

The hardest thing I find about writing, is you don't do it in a bubble. When I am in the mood to write, my husband wants to go out to dinner, my son calls to chat or my daughter has a crisis she needs Mum to talk her through and the dust bunnies have taken over the bedroom - and isn't that horrible ding noise the tumble dryer makes when it demands to be emptied get really irritating?

Being awake is a good start so mornings are good for me too, and when I am in the mood I could write all night on occasion, but that's hardly condusive to marital bliss so I have to supress the muse until morning. When he's away on business, though me and the duvet/laptop/coffee machine have an illicit affair!

Carolin said...

I wish I had the luxury to decide when I want to write *grin* I'm one of the working stiffs who writes when she has the time. Sincerely hope it won't take me 17 years to write my first novel - but that's why I joined a Writers' Group - to hold my feet to the fire....

Right now I mostly write at night, and I have the problem you mentioned, Jen - my brain is often too tired to be productive, or too preoccupied with other things.

Really the only other time I have is when the weather is bad (so I don't feel guilty for not being out on the farm working horses) and I'm caught up with grading. Winter is actually conducive to writing, as the evenings are longer and the weather worse *grin*

So all in all, I write maybe three days (or rather, nights) of the week max right now....

Diane Scott Lewis said...

I started writing when I worked full time, so it was in the evenings. Then husband wanted dinner on time, darn!
Now I find the best time is in the early morning before the rest of the world is awake to interrupt me.
It's taken me 17 years to finish or polish my first novel. It finally gets published in 2010. I really need to write faster!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I prefer early morning, but now that my body is demanding so much sleep and my eyes have been giving me a fit, that has been impossible. My daughter has to be at school by 7:30 AM and I can't get up at 4AM like I used to. I'm still able to manage 5AM, do my devotions and then I squeeze in a blog post M, W, F. On T and TH, I write from 5:30-6AM. Writing is typically done on my lunch hour at work, on weekends, and at night 9-10PM and Mondays and Thursdays when my daughter is at swim practice from 6-7PM. Basically, I squeeze it in wherever I can.

Benita Brown said...

I started writing when my four children were small. I was also teaching part time and working as a freelance broadcaster. Looking back I am astonished that I managed to produce anything at all, but I began to sell to radio and magazines. I started work as soon as the children were in bed and wrote until after midnight. Soon I was able to give up teaching and next the broadcasting. I didn't start to write novels until the youngest child was poised to go to university. Now I am what my publisher likes to call a full time writer. The children have left home and have children of their own. I have all day to write and yet for many years I still found that evening and late night time hours more productive. I've been training myself to write earlier in the day and at last, I think it's working. However, a few years ago when I was very ill, I would write through the night until I was exhausted enough to sleep. It's marvelous what a deadline does for your willpower regardless of what your body clock says.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Writing in mid to late morning, then early afternoon. I'm most productive when the house is empty, although the TV is often on, sound on low volume, so I don't feel entirely isolated from the world. A lot of my editing gets done in the evenings, when I have smaller bits of time. I've cleared my slate of extraneous obligations over the last two years to give writing priority, but honestly I was more productive when I had limited time. Now I find all kinds of useless distractions.

Victoria Dixon said...

Color me bubble wrapped. I get up between 5 and 6 every morning and write for at least an hour. Ok, sometimes that's more like write emails or write on other people's blogs. But I'm writing! LOL

Victoria Dixon said...

Oh, and I'm at more like 12 years and counting, but I may catch you up!

Jen Black said...

Just goes to prove how dedicated you have to be to even think about writing a novel. Three cheers for all of us!
Jen

Julie Day said...

As I have a day job, I write during my lunch hour. When I am at home it's in the afternoon I write as I like to do things such as shopping and dusting in the morning out of the way and concentrate on writing the rest of the day.

Linda Banche said...

I usually mark out all day Sunday. I write sometimes after work, but I'm often so tired, nothing works. Then there's the dratted promotion, which sucks a lot of time, and I wonder if any of that promotion drudgery pays off.

Jen Black said...

I've wondered about online promotion, too. I'm not convinced it helps, but some people swear by it. Publishers like authors to show willing - and I like blogging, so that's cool.
Jen