Burning the Midnight Oil


I’ve been noticing something in my emails from other writers–most of them are sent from the vicinity of midnight. As a confirmed, hard-core Night Owl, driven author, and day job-holder, I understand. I’ve tried every way under the sun (and moon) to find more time to write. I can’t say how many times I’ve fallen asleep in mid-sentence, woke up still typing, and wondered, “Where the heck was I going with that sentence?” I’ve never had a problem with writing every day, it’s more like I go through withdrawal if I don’t. I’d wait for 10 p.m., when everyone else was asleep, and when I’d be able to dive in and immerse myself in my fantasy world–only to realize I had to reread what I’d written the night before because I couldn’t remember it. LOL

About two years ago, I realized I was giving my writing the tail-end of my day, when my mind was cluttered with the detritus of day to day life and not at its best. I had an epiphany of sorts–why not write at the beginning of the day? I’d considered it before, of course, but never seriously. There’s that huge catch–I’d have to get up extra early–and I’m a NIght Owl. But as the years ticked by in that manner, I became desperate enough to try it.

The funny thing is, it works. My writing is demonstratively at its best, I actually remember what I wrote the day before, and my output leaped. Best of all, I found I was so excited about a solid, uninterrupted block of writing time, I only used my alarm clock the first couple days. (Yes, my honey is grateful for that–he’s a light sleeper.) What could be more bizarre than getting up to write at the same time I used to go to bed? LOL The downside is that I’m still a Night Owl, so going to bed by 8 p.m. is always an uphill battle, especially if I get my second wind. But when the story’s really making headway, not only do I still get up at 3 a.m., I start waking up at midnight, 1:30, etc, and have to make myself stay in bed until 3 (and sometimes I cave in and get up and wallow in 5 hours of Prime Time instead of the usual 3.5.).

Now I find myself constantly breaking new ground, learning more about both the craft and the business of writing than ever before. It used to be that completing a first draft was exciting (well, it still is!). The first novel I sent to editors was the first one I’d ever completed–or thought I had. Yeah, I really did send in a first draft manuscript without anyone else reading it first, and only then did I ask someone to read it! I was so mortified, I thought I’d HAVE to take a pen name. Now, of course, I realize no one probably laid eyes on that first draft manuscript after they read the cover (NOT query!) letter. The one I’m working on now–critiqued out the whazoo, revised literally countless times–would never have gotten to the first draft if I hadn’t started getting up with the chickens.(No, I don’t have chickens, but the cat thinks breakfast at 3 is a great idea.)

So, why am I blogging during Prime Time? I’ve had to set my story aside so I can look at the last revision with fresher eyes. That’s always been hard for me to do for more than a day. This time, I realized this would be a good time to try blogging without feeling I’m taking productive time away from my novel. Now when I need to freshen my view of my latest revision, I’ll have time (I hope) for the care and feeding of a blog, as well as visit OP blogs and explore the internet’s reading/writing universe. I’ve resisted putting the story aside and working on a different one–there’s a reason I’ve got 42 novels as WIPs.

So, if anyone else is struggling to find writing time, and trying to write when their energy is ebbing, give Dawn Patrol a try. 😉

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1 Comment

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One response to “Burning the Midnight Oil

  1. Pingback: I hope I can do better than my first draft…. | Zara ~ a writing story

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