When do you write?

Over the next six Wednesdays, I’ll be posing a classic reporter’s question about the ways one approaches writing. Today we begin by asking ourselves “when”…

It’s an honest question, can you give an honest answer? I try to write in the morning, though I often fall prey to writing at night. Which is not to say, my worse writing occurs at night; writing past twilight has served me well over the years, especially in my time as an undergrad, but as I move into a more day-centric, frankly more “adult” world, I’ve tried to move my creative time to the morning. Some mornings it’s a breeze, a real treat. I get loads of writing done and have a great sense of accomplishment to kick off my day. And other mornings… Well, it doesn’t go so well. You get the picture. Still, I could have the same problem if I stuck with my night owl writing slot, yes? It’s not like any time will be the magical moment everything goes well without fail, but one can set oneself up for an acceptable success rate.

If you’re stuck on when to write, or you’re open to change, try these tips:

Try writing at different times of the day.

You should always use what works best for you, but being open to trying something new may allow you to surprise yourself. If you’re a night owl, see what happens if you try the early riser route. If your mornings are packed, see if an afternoon of writing serves you better than spoiling yourself with coveted naps. Change is never easy, but the results have the potential to take you somewhere new and exciting.

Choose a time to write and stick with it for two weeks.

Writing should be an every day activity (if you’re not doing that, better make it happen), and you won’t know if a new writing time is working for you unless you give it a chance. A few days or even a week isn’t enough time to try something new because a variety of outside factors might have an impact; for example, the week you decide to become an early riser writer is also the week you have a dentist appointment, a job interview, and your car breaks down. Two weeks is a solid time period to let you get a feel for how your new writing time works or doesn’t work.

If your writing time isn’t working, change it.

Don’t take it personally if the time you set up for yourself to write isn’t for you – that leads to depression, and there can only be so many Hemingways per century (the rule of thumb is one). Instead, acknowledge you tried a writing time and it wasn’t for you. At that point, you have two choices: give up on writing, or find a better time to write. I’m hopeful you choose the latter, dear reader, because the former represents the sort of defeatist attitude you were likely trying to stifle by switching up your writing time in the first place.

As I said before, no specific time is guaranteed to work for you all of the time, but if you can embrace that, if you can say that even if it doesn’t work for my every time it’s still the best time that works for me, then you’ve really got something. Remember that in baseball, batting .400 is considered an amazing feat. How often do you expect the time you take to sit down and write to produce a homerun?

-nm

[tags]when do you write, writing time, time to write, write, time, writing tips, baseball analogy, surprise yourself[/tags]

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