A few weeks ago, Jeanne blogged about chunky writers, or writers who need large chunks of time in order to be productive. I completely identified with this…it takes me a little while to get into my story world, and if I’m on a tear, I want to stay there.
However, as some of you know, I have a family…kids, a dog (who unfortunately does not use a litter box and so needs to go out), and a husband who travels a lot. I’m also the point person on just about anything to do with repairs, errands, etc. And, because most businesses are open during the day, that’s when I have to take care of those things, usually at the expense of my writing.
But it didn’t used to be like this. When my kids were younger (and I needed to parent them all day), I would work at night, usually starting after they went to bed. I would work until midnight or later, then come to bed and try to make it through the next day with IVs of caffeine. Not only was I a migraine-wielding zombie, the lack of time spent with my husband after the kiddos went to bed put major stress on our marriage. Then my kids started at a new school, I became the PTA president, and I basically stopped writing for two years.
Cue one-and-a-half years after kick-starting my writing and I’m trying to figure out how to get my writing done productively. I had a taste of it when I was in London in September…being alone and on a different time zone meant that I wasn’t interrupted and no one was calling or scheduling anything with me because when I was awake, they were asleep! In one week, I finished my website, polished a free short story prequel (#shamelesspromo: go to my website, sign up for my newsletter, and it’s yours!), and wrote 22,000 words on my WIP.
Ever since, I’ve been dying to recreate that sort of productivity.
Then, while chatting with my therapist the other day, I asked her why I was so comfortable with letting my own deadlines go, but when I had a deliverable for someone else, I stuck to them like glue? Eventually, the conversation came around to chunky vs. non-chunky writers and I recalled how I used to write at night. I decided that it was time to restart my nocturnal writing habits and started this past week.
The results? AMAZING!!
In a span of four hours Wednesday night, I completely rewrote my first chapter. Five thousand words. And the words flowed. I was able to stay in my story as long as I needed to, and at the end of my writing session (about 2 a.m.), I felt energized by my progress. I couldn’t wait to do it again!
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that not everyone can do this. I don’t have a 9-5 job, so I have time during the day that I can crash and catch up on sleep, and my husband is much more willing to grant me the time to write than he was a few years ago (I think he sees that I’m actually getting somewhere with my writing, haha!). But if you need ample time to write, you have the flexibility in your schedule, and you can stay up late (here’s a test…do you stay up to finish a book that you started at 10 p.m.? If so, you’re probably good), then I suggest giving it a try.
Update: Three Nights Later
I started this blog post on Thursday. It’s now Saturday evening. I had two nights of good writing (to 1-2 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday) and on the first day after my nocturnal writing session, I was able to grab catch-up sleep, but not so the other day. As a result, I was dragging. I definitely learned a few things in the short, half-week that I tried nocturnal writing:
- I need to work on keeping my morning schedule clear of appointments and errands so I can go back to bed for a couple hours…the extra sleep is necessary;
- Do NOT drink tea/coffee when the kids are getting ready for school, no matter how much I think I need it (or crave it), because it will totally prevent me from falling asleep once I get them out the door;
- If the kids aren’t in school, I can’t stay up late the night before. Period. They may be older a bit a more self-sufficient, but they still get into trouble.
Clearly, my strategy needs a bit of tweaking. I will also have to be more thoughtful about staying up late when my husband is out of town, because I have to run the show 24/7 and that requires a certain amount of synaptic function with two tween boys.
All of that said, I’m still encouraged by having the uninterrupted time to write. I just need to focus on making my schedule work with this new nightly writing plan.
So…when do you write? If you need huge swaths of time, how do you fit it in?