Were you a flashlight reader as a kid? I was definitely one and spent many a wakeful night when everyone else in my family was sound asleep swooning over Jane Eyre or writing poetry or finishing some book report I should have completed two days before. I’ve always loved the nighttime and the quiet it brings. And somehow, beginning my own work at a point in the day when most people’s work is done appeals to my sense of the dramatic and offbeat – not a bad thing in a writer.
I know, of course, that not everyone shares my nocturnal longings and leanings. Edith Wharton used to lounge in bed after a leisurely breakfast, scribble the pages of her newest novel and scatter them on the floor all around her, casually leaving them there for a scurrying servant to retrieve.
But, though I’ve tried it more than once, an early morning routine just doesn’t work for me. I’ve always been a night person masquerading as a day person: it simply takes a while for my writing engine to warm up. Usually I’ll get started on my work by inputting some text I’ve created earlier, move into revising, and then slip into creating something new. It’s not unusual for me to hit that phase after the sun goes down. Lots of people do the reverse, I know – creating new work in the morning and then revising and editing.
I’ve found that it’s more fruitful and less stressful to go with my natural writing rhythm than it is to force it in a different direction. I try not to get too caught up in angsting over my process: for me that’s often an invitation not to write. As long as I’m disciplined about my daily writing practice, I figure I’m on the right track. Still, I’m open to new approaches. Who knows what will happen as this year unfolds!
I have to confess, though, I can be a bit obsessive: it’s after 1:00 in the morning and for some strange reason, only now am I sitting down and writing this. Are you up, too?