Do you ever have those times when sleep is out of the question because you have an idea for a book or article wandering through your head? Of course you do. We’ve all been there at one time or another. My own experience in this arena has been punctuated with internal arguments. Should I get up and write this down? I need my sleep, but will I remember the details this vividly when I have the time to write? Will I remember this at all if I go to sleep and do it tomorrow? (Note to self – keep pencil and paper beside bed.) Our minds can be creative at almost any time, but getting it on the page when it all makes sense is sometimes a problem because of the many other activities in our lives.
My particular pitfall is the late night situation, when my mind is creatively active, imaginative beyond belief, and often going ten different directions at once. Unfortunately, it is the absolute worst time for me to write anything in a story form, even knowing that it’s just a rough draft. My creative side is there in full force, but the practical side of getting the pen to the paper, or the fingers to the keyboard is nearly non-existent.
Every time I’ve attempted any lengthy or complicated piece late at night it has been a disaster, even though my logical side tells me that the kids are asleep, there is nothing good on TV, and I’m inspired. I just can’t get it translated from my head to the page. Maybe my right and left brain are having an argument. You visual medium artists out there know what I’m talking about.
My worst case was when I was working on my first (and only) novel. It was a long project with many characters and plot interactions. I was so proud of myself at 3:00am when I put the closing sentence on the first draft of a twenty page chapter. The next morning I sent the wife to work, walked the kids to school, paid some bills, then sat down to read through the latest installment of the great American novel. Within ten minutes I trashed the entire twenty pages! Groan!
I had been down that particular late night path before, but never to that extent. I had always chalked up a bad outcome to other factors such as lack of research or undeveloped characters. But twenty pages down the drain? That was a big wake up call for me. Soon after that excruciating moment, I took stock of my best times to write, when my best work came to light and took actual, usable form.
For me, the time of day that best suits my writing needs is early to mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, it can easily spill over into dinner time and kids getting home from school. It’s a delicate balance of time management, creativity, and keeping peace in the family. Even if I can’t get everything done that I want to, I can write down a few notes to jog my memory for the next session.
The point of this long, drawn out story is to encourage you to pick your best moment. Evaluate your work honestly and give it a separate grade based solely on when you produced it. Do good results come easier at one time of day as opposed to another? If so, see what you can do to reserve that time slot for writing. Work on your creative piece when mind, spirit, and body are present at the same time. Keep a balance between your creative side and your other life obligations, but mostly keep faith in your own ability to bring your unique story to the world.