Birds and Owls and Me

People in general tend to find themselves more productive during a certain time. Some are vampires and work throughout the night. Some are normal people and work throughout the day. I am a writer, and have left any claims to “normal” far behind me.

Are you an early bird or night owl when it comes to writing?

Picture credit: Edward Poynter, via Pictorem

See, the thing is, I stand by the declaration that writers can’t wait until inspiration is upon them to write. Nothing will ever get done if you do. I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps the Muse is more of a siren than anything, calling you away from your assigned course to crash upon the rocks of new ideas or boredom. She tricks you into thinking you have to follow the passion to be successful. Well, unfortunately for those of us who have chosen writership as our calling, it’s not that easy. Passion is a good jumping board for success, but is rarely, if ever, the whole equation.

That said, I still find myself working better at certain times, so it’s not like I’m just shucking the idea of night owls/early birds all together. I would like to be a morning bird, and that is when I tend to do most of my writing. The morning is full of possibilities. You have the entire day to get stuff done. Save things for later, and you might find yourself sacrificing sleep just to meet deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise). So, every day, I do try to sit down and write before I have to go to work or do stuff around the house. I try to be responsible. Sleep is very important. Very.

However, when it comes to my ideas… you don’t get to chose when those come, unfortunately. The ideas come when they will, and while they’re not always better than morning thoughts, at least I can count on having ideas to fall back on. Things click together better late at night, and make more sense to boot. (Perhaps it is just my groggy mind thinking “oh, that’s a good idea!” only to find out, awake once again, that it was not so much…) So I end up staying up far later than I’d like, spewing out ideas in the hopes that, once I’m finished, I might actually have a chance of falling asleep. After all, I’ll have to get up in the morning to write again.

For Dire Fate, I learned pretty early on the necessity of writing a certain amount each day. Since I’m also going to school and working near full-time (especially around the holidays), my daily writing goal is relatively small. It’s currently 600 words, because that’s what I calculated to be able to write one chapter a week, with one “free day” where I do nothing at all and one editing day where I go back and make any necessary adjustments to that chapter before moving onto the next. And if I happen to finish early (which has happened a few times), then all the better, and I just start on the next chapter.

I wanted to be a little more lenient with my writing schedule for this one. There is a difference between spewing out first drafts like we do during NaNoWriMo, and doing the last solo revision. However, even though I want to make sure it doesn’t read like spew, I’m also eager to get it to the next step. So if there’s a difficult bit, I give myself the day off. Maybe I’ll think it over in the morning, try to work it out. Maybe I’ll get an idea at 12:45 a.m. Or maybe the problem won’t solve itself and I just have to sit in my chair the next morning and write anyways. Either way, it seems to get the job done.

TL;DR: I’m a night owl, but being a writer, for me, is just another full-time job, so I might find myself doing writer-related things at pretty much any point of the day.


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