This question came to my mind a few weeks ago. When is the best time for writing? On reflection, I would guess that I could get as many answers as there are writers reading this post. We are all different, and that means we will all have individual methods of writing, including times where we concentrate on our literary pursuits. There is no right answer, nor will one approach suit everyone.
If you are a professional writer, say a journalist, you will have no choice. Your editors will expect your writing to be done on demand, usually with a non-negotiable deadline. Even freelance writers will have strict time-lines for submission. Those who write for magazines or who are writing novels may have publishers ringing them asking when the manuscript will appear on their desk.
For the vast majority of writers – from hobbyists through to professionals like novelists – deadlines are usually not as pressing, or may be absent entirely. I’m certainly in this latter group. While I am trying to establish myself as a full-time, professional writer, I am not relying on my writing for financial support. Any income is a bonus. So I have the luxury of writing – or not.
Although I don’t have to produce income generating writing, I try to be as professional as I can in my approach to my writing life. I usually try to get a few hours in every morning, a few more hours in the afternoon and often several more in the evening. Several times a week I will relax and allow myself some television, or reading. I will also take time out to read during the day, especially when I take a break for a cuppa. With all the writing I have done over the last seven years (since retiring from school teaching) I find I can now generally write on demand. Doing my Master of Arts in Creative Writing over the last three years has certainly helped me develop this skill; it’s amazing how motivated one can be when an assignment is due the next day.
I used to say that I don’t do mornings. That attitude came from having a job to go to, where there was no option. Now I have the option to write, or not, I find that it is no longer an issue. I’ve even woken at 5am and have written over a 1000 words before breakfast. This is quite out of character for me, but the stillness of the early morning is very conducive to creative writing. Sometimes the words really flow late at night and I’m tempted to write on into the wee hours. At my age this becoming less and less attractive; I need the sleep!
I guess what I’m trying to say – in a very long winded way – is that we all have to find what works for us. Experiment with different approaches, and different times of the day and see what works best. The time of day doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are writing. Every day.
I’d love to hear what works best for you. Leave you suggestions in the comments, thanks.
I love writing.
- That’s why I’m a writer.
- That’s why I struggled over the last three years to finish my Master of Arts (Creative Writing).
- That’s why I write regularly on this site (and my other two sites – see the links at the bottom of the page).
- That’s why I write every day or so in my personal journal.
- That’s why I write short stories.
- That’s why I write novels.
- That’s why I write poems.
Sometimes, however, a writer needs to take time out from writing and attend to other life matters. Over recent weeks I’ve been attending to various health issues. These have included:
- An appointment with my optician: I needed new glasses.
- Checking with my eye specialist to see if I need a cataract operation: I don’t.
- A visit to my diabetes nurse educator: for some good information about diet.
- Having a check up with my GP who suggested I have one of my regular blood tests: no problems there.
- Having my six monthly chest x-ray for a certain condition I have: had a good result.
- A dental appointment which resulted in a tooth extraction and a major filling job last week.
I am having few problem with the last item, so back I go to the dentist this afternoon to check on that.
It is important for everyone, not just writers, to look after their health. When I am sick, or have a continuing health issue, I can’t be giving my full attention to my writing, a focus it deserves.
Hope all goes well this afternoon.
I had a good day of writing today.
It’s noteworthy because such days have been rather a rarity of late. After the rush and intensity to finish my degree last year I allowed myself some space for a few weeks to recover. An unwelcome side effect has been losing momentum with my writing. Sure, I’ve been doing a little here and there, but it has been very spasmodic and not at all intentional or planned.
Time to get on with serious writing again. I’ve actually been thinking in this way for quite a few weeks, but a few health and life issues intervened. Today was different and I have much to show for it. I was under way with a short project early this morning and haven’t let up all day. It is very satisfying when the words flow freely. I managed over 4800 words today, the most I’ve ever done in a day if my memory is correct. (My memory is increasingly failing me, but that’s another story.)
The writing project I started – and finished – today was updating my personal journal. I like to write in this journal at least once a week – more often if I can – and I hadn’t done anything in it all year. I’d recommend writing a journal if you don’t already have one. I find that journal writing gives me excellent writing practice, it clarifies my thinking on many important issues – quite often not writing related – and it records major events in my life. My journal has an audience of one: me. Someday my children or grandchildren may get to read it. That’s not why I write it.
I am waiting, waiting, waiting.
I am trying to be very patient. If patience really is a virtue, I must be very virtuous indeed. You see, I’m waiting for the results of my Master of Arts Creative Writing thesis paper. Regular readers will know that over the last 18 months I’ve been writing a children’s novel set in Nepal during their recent civil war. I submitted the novel, along with a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the writing of the novel, about mid-December. We were told we might wait 6 to 8 weeks for the results. Two days ago the 9 week mark was reached, so I am trying not to get impatient. Two of my fellow students have heard their results but they submitted the week before me.
This experience has got me thinking about the patience that all writers need. Here are some of my thoughts:
Why writers need patience:
- Some writers need to patiently wait for writing ideas.
- Writers need patience when a story or novel is not going along as it should.
- Patience is needed when life gets in the way of writing schedules, especially if the writer has another job, or a family needing attention.
- You need patience when waiting to hear if a publisher is going to accept your story or novel.
- Once an acceptance is offered by a publisher, patience is needed when waiting to see the work in print.
- When a story or novel has been published, one needs patience waiting for a payment.
- Reading through reviews of one’s work can severely test a writer’s patience.
I’m sure most writers could add many more examples. What can you do while all the waiting is going on?
- While waiting for a idea for a story, read, read, read and do other creative activities to stimulate the mind.
- While waiting to hear from a publisher, go on with other writing projects to maintain momentum with your writing.
- While waiting for your work to be published, be sending out more work to publishers. Keep your momentum going.
- Remember that waiting is inevitable and a part of the writing process. Use the waiting time productively.
- Don’t give up.
It is my guess that most writers want to be published in some form.
Not all, of course. There are some people quite happy to pen their thoughts purely for their own pleasure – or perhaps just for a small circle of family and friends.
There are many others who are striving hard to gain the nod of approval from publishers and desire to see their words in print. I’m one of them, and have enjoyed the thrill of seeing my stories and poems in print. To this point my success has been modest. I also get great pleasure in the knowledge that I have many hundreds of readers of my three blogs, including this one.
Fiona Maddock on the site Write for your life has written a thought provoking article called Unknown and unpublished: enjoy it while it lasts. She explains that the unpublished writer has freedoms not enjoyed by a published author and I’d agree. Unpublished writers can write whatever takes their fancy, have no set deadlines and can write as much or as little as they wish.
She doesn’t leave the article there, of course, going on to outline some basic but essential things to remember to do on one’s journey to becoming a published writer. We should not forget the basics of grammar, spelling, punctuation, editing and rewriting.