When is the best time to write?
The ideal morning routine
I can’t help but wonder how much time people think we have in the morning. And by people, I mean all the health and productivity experts.
While I can get on board with the general theory that it is often better to get things done first thing in the morning, there is so much to fit in that if I were to do everything suggested, I would be at least noon before I was done.
Meditate for 15 minutes to put yourself in the right frame of mind for the day. Sure. Write your three morning pages, no more than 15 minutes, to spark your creativity and keep it flowing. Is that before or after the meditation? Go to the gym / get your exercise in because your metabolism works best when you exercise first thing. Yes, right, that’s at least another hour before travel time to and from the gym. And have breakfast, shower, get ready for work. And what about the kids? When am I supposed to fit my writing in? Oh, an hour or two, right after I wake up? Because that’s when I’m most creative and putting off until the evening, well you never know when something will come up and take up your writing time.
So what time am I getting up at now? If you have to be at work by 8:30, and travel time to work is 30 minutes, then to fit everything in, you might be looking at waking up at 4:00 am. Even that might be pushing it.
I don’t know about you, but I’d have to go to bed by 7:00 pm to make this workable, and I need more time than that after a day of work to de-stress and simply get ready for the next day.
So what are we to do? When do we find time to write?
The simplest answer is: Whenever it works for you!
Except it isn’t necessarily that simple.
Personally, I find I’m at my most creative when I write after 10:00 pm. I can write for hours. This is great, except that I still have to wake up in the morning to go to work. And even if I can achieve my word-count for the day by midnight, I’m usually on a bit of that writer’s high, thinking about the story and where it’s going to go, so sleep escapes me.
I’ve done the wake up early thing too. I used to get up at 6:00 and write for an hour before getting ready for work. The condensed time was great. My goal for each day was to get at least 1,000 words written. After writing out a very detailed outline of what would happen approximately every 1,000 words, I knew exactly what I was writing that morning. So much writing happened. It wasn’t particularly sustainable because I wasn’t getting enough sleep at night so getting up became more and more of a challenge, and I could just say, “I’ll write in the evening instead.”
Assuming you get an hour for lunch at work, the lunch break is a good time to fit in some writing. It does mean shutting out co-workers who want to talk, or if you’re staying at your desk, being able to avoid interruption and setting aside your work.
Get to the point!
The best time to write, is to write when it works for you. The writing time that works best for you, is the time you make for writing.
Whenever you make and take time to write, it is important to eliminate as much distraction as possible and allow yourself to focus solely on the story at hand. Here are some quick ways you can do this:
- Close the door. If you’re in an office at work or at home, and you are able to, close the door. Don’t answer when people knock if you don’t have to. This is assuming that your break time is your break time and you can do with it what you want, and that no one is dying or nothing is on fire.
- Make notes for the next day’s session. Not the “purple pancakes,” kind of note. I mean, detailed. The character is doing x in this location with that other character and she’s going to have to make this choice. Or, she has escape the palace. This will save you from having to re-read everything you’ve already written.
- Get out a scrap of paper or a journal and write down all the tasks you have yet to do, the ones you think you should be doing instead of writing, then set it aside, you’ll get to those tasks later.
- Do the same thing with all the doubts that are coming up. Start with, “I don’t feel like writing.” Set aside the journal or if doubts come up as you’re writing, write them in your journal then get back to your story.
- Listen to music to help get you in the right frame of mind for your story. Maybe you like classical or polkas or pop music.
Make and take time to write
You know your schedule best. No one can tell you when you should write. We can offer suggestions based on surveys or our own experience, but we don’t know what works best for you. Everyone is different.
Instead of worrying about when you should write: if it should be every day or every morning or for how many hours, decide that you want to write. Fit it into your schedule. For thirty minutes or three hours and everything in between. Every day or once a week. Early mornings or late at night. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do it. One word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time.
Until next time…