What Time of Day Do You Write?

I have heard the stories over the years. Perfect writer of your acquaintance gets up before the sun and writes a gazillion words. This writer has won contests, has an agent and the first book in their hot series hit NYC like a freight train.  They are unstoppable.

At a workshop last year, the presenter told us how he writes 4000 words per day and publishes on average 16 books per year. Plus he blogs several times a week, writes articles, goes to the gym and his publisher loves him.

Head meet desk.

I didn’t write for days after the meeting. Paralyzed with doubts about my writing and lack of production, I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling I was a failure. I think all artists grapple with uncertainty. It’s part of the package for creative people, but I didn’t know how to fix the situation.

I would like to point out, the presenter wasn’t bragging as much as he was trying to explain his process. I was the one who took it to heart. My brain is the one that went off on it’s own adventure into doom and gloom.

I can write 5 days a week and get in between one thousand to fifteen hundred words per session. In the scheme of things, this has been my average. I know this is my average because I use spreadsheets to track my process. I like crunching numbers and seeing my word count for the day, month and year go up.

The thought of getting in four thousand words five days a week makes my heart skip a couple of beats. In my world, if that’s what it takes to be a success, I have made a huge error. I will fail.

I like to write late. Mostly because I am a night owl. I like the quiet of everyone in the house being asleep, and I am free to do as I please. Sometimes it means I binge watch something on Netflix, but I try to get my writing in before goofing off.

I took a class this January in writing when you don’t want to.  Perhaps the easiest change I’ve made is to drop the word count goals.  I am working with a timed goal. I am also trying to write earlier in the day. 

Here’s a confession.  If I write earlier in the day, I get more done.  This includes my personal life. I’ve already turned in my work for my critique group, written for the day, and now I sit here writing this article while my gaming group is rolling dice on another screen.

The biggest surprise, finishing early means I am not spending the entire day wracked with guilt. Until I wrote early on Tuesday, I hadn’t realized how much shame ate my day. I’d obsess for hours about how I hadn’t gotten my writing in, how lazy I was, how much I didn’t want to be a success.

With all of this nonsense shut up, I have been improving my process. My spreadsheets are all together in a tidy workbook, my computer got a nice clean up, and I’ve written more than I have since NaNo. The writing life is good.

Lest you think I am getting up early, let me reassure you, hell has not frozen over.  I will always be a night owl. I have been since I was a child. I am trying to use my time more wisely. Not putting off the writing until everyone is in bed has meant I am writing more. Not reproaching myself to death has meant I am a nicer person.

What’s your process? What time of day do you write? How can you tinker with things to make them more manageable? Please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you.