Punctuality Rules!

Writing: The Difference Between Night and Day

Do you do your best writing in the morning? Or at night?

This is one of those topics that can raise strong opinions.

People who write in the morning say that their brain is fresher, more creative. Their energy level is high, and they can crank out their best work before they’ve had their morning coffee. Or, at least, before lunch.

People who write at night say that their best work comes when their brain is tired after a full day, too tired to snipe and criticize at every sentence. They can focus on their writing with the satisfying knowledge that everything else they needed to do that day is done, and they can get words down on the page while the overly critical portion of their brain naps, dreaming about lists of tasks to do tomorrow.

Personally, I have trouble writing first thing in the morning. I like my sleep too much, and have difficulty enough dragging my eyelids open to get to my day job. The idea of waking up an hour earlier and pulling open the laptop and writing before I’m even out of bed (as I hear some writers do) seems almost obscene, and way too energetic for that hour of the day.

Could I go to bed earlier so I could wake up earlier without grumbling? Maybe, but then I’d lose the time I get some of my best work done. I find when I write later in the day, my inner critic is too busy napping to interfere with my getting words on the page. I like her awake and alert when I’m editing things, but dragging the words for a first draft out to my keyboard? She just gets in the way, trying to be too helpful. “Shouldn’t you have a comma there?” “Is that really the best word to use?” “You forgot to mention the strongest selling point.” It’s like trying to cook a Thanksgiving dinner with a toddler underfoot. She means well, but really isn’t helping a bit.

But, if I wait until she gets tired and nods off? I find I get so much more done, and then I welcome her help with the actual editing process. “You’re right, that spot really does need a comma.”

How about you? Morning? Or Evening?

Of course, maybe you split the difference and write in the afternoons…

6 thoughts on “Writing: The Difference Between Night and Day

  1. Kelvin Kao

    I am definitely a night person. However, what I have also done is staying up to brainstorm stuff that’s due the next day and too tired to actually finish it. So I would just come up with an idea and an outline (sometimes not even that) and just sleep on it. And then when I woke up early the next day, I would be ready to crank out the work really fast.
    .-= Kelvin Kao´s last blog ..How to make Caesar salad =-.

  2. Brad Shorr

    It’s 5:00 AM – and just about my favorite time to write. Everything seems clear, and no distractions. By 3:00 PM my brain has turned to slush and writing is impossible … unless there’s a deadline.

  3. --Deb

    I’m not saying I never come up with ideas in the morning, but I have a hard time dragging my eyelids open. Even if I need less sleep than I did when I was a teenager, I still hate waking up when it’s still dark outside (making January my least favorite month on work days).

    Not only that, I usually have more physical energy in the morning, so that’s when I run errands or do housework … so that I can sit quietly in front of my computer the rest of the day without feeling guilty.

    Deadlines, of course, DO make a difference! (grin)
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Writing: The Difference Between Night and Day =-.

  4. --Deb

    Of course, the fact that I have a day job makes a difference, too. If it’s a choice between staying up a little later at night or getting up extra early in the morning, I’d rather stay up late, thank you. Ideally, though, I think my favorite time to write is actually mid-afternoon … though, if I had the chance to completely rework my schedule, who knows? Maybe I would be more productive in the morning … but I’m simply not willing to start waking up at 5:00 am just to test it.
    .-= –Deb´s last blog ..Writing: The Difference Between Night and Day =-.

  5. Walter

    Morning or evening, I can have my ideas flow as I write. I believe that if we can manage to focus on the present task–which is writing–our minds will put its attention on it. At the early stage of my writing, I don’t put much heed on the order and punctuation; I just allow my thoughts to express what in it and then later I would arrange it in such a comprehensible way.

    Sometimes we cannot afford our ideal time, so we might as well give our best to the available time. :-)