Monday, January 18, 2010

The Midnight Hour

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne
I admire those writers who get up in the wee hours of the morning to write - I cannot even function before about 6am and even then I need breakfast, The New York Times crossword and a big cup of tea before I can even contemplate writing. Granted every morning I have the boys to get to preschool so inevitably it's 10am before I even get started writing (and that's on a good day). When I was writing my first novel, Consequences of Sin, I had the 'luxury' of being pregnant so I could spend all day writing (and most of the night since I found it almost impossible to sleep), then the twins were born and I had to try and fit revisions into naps. Suddenly I realized I wasn't going to be able to write when the mood struck - I was going to have to write in whatever free minute I could find.

Five years later and I am still struggling to find a writing schedule to fit. Never one to be able to write late at night, I now find myself routinely writing until 11 pm (which becomes 2am when I'm trying to meet a deadline). When friends ask me how on earth I find time to write I answer that I just 'find' it wherever and whenever I can. I laugh when people tell me about how they prepare themselves with mood music and incense, getting themselves into 'writing mode'...I haven't the time to 'prepare myself' (for me any form of preparation has to be research) but it's true that there is always a lead time needed before the writing starts to flow. I still find the time factor difficult to manage. When I was lawyer I billed in 6 minute increments, now I find it hard to feel as if I have achieved anything of substance unless I have had a good 1-2 hour chunk of time. It takes me at least that long to find the rhythm of my writing - but (and here's the rub) it seems so hard to capture that length of time uninterrupted. I often find that I am just getting into the flow of things when my time (literally) is up.

So what kind of writing schedule do you maintain? How do fit your writing in? Are you someone who gets up early or stays up late? Any advice on how to become a more effective 'writing time' manager?


  1. Clare,

    I seem to operate best on the "fringes", that is either early in the AM or late at night. At first it was a matter of necessity because I'm married, have a full-time job, and I'm the father of three active kids, so those were the only hours available to me. But now it seems I've grown into that regiment. When I attempt to write during the day I am easily distracted and my word output is embarrassing.

    DL’s Blog

  2. On work days I write for an hour or so in the evening after supper, though I need at least half an hour to get my mind right by checking email and reading a few key blogs. Weekends or other days off I write twice as long, usually in the middle of the afternoon.

    The time is flexible, as I usually have set amount of work to get through each day.

    I'm married and have a full-time job that occupies about 11 hours a day, including commute, but my daughter is pretty much grown and away at college now, so finding time to write is primarily a matter of me making time to do it.

  3. I'm a morning, Stabucks-in-hand writer. If I get my quota done first thing, it just makes the rest of the day go a lot better.

  4. Clare, my mornings are usually consumed with ITW business along with marketing my own books. Writing comes in the afternoon. I rarely work at night.

  5. I was much more productive when I was on an early-morning schedule. I'd get up at 4 a.m. and write for two hours before my day job kicked in. Since I stopped working the day job, my schedule has gotten much more erratic, and the regular flow of my schedule has suffered. The most consistent advice I've heard on this topic is to write every day, at the same time every day. So pick your best time, and shoot for that every day. Even if you only write for 15 minutes at that time every day, you're building up your writing muscle around that schedule.

  6. At least I'm not alone in the juggling routine needed!

  7. I write best and hardest in the early morning and try to stop around noon. YEars ago I'd write eight to ten hours a day, but I get more done writing four or five hours or less. If I stop then I have the rest of the day to piddle around the place and think about what I'll write next. Or just screw around all afternoon.