A Night Owl, but Maybe Not a WriteOwl

Megan Norris Jones

Megan Norris Jones

In a previous post, I wrote about my search for more consistent writing time as my daytime schedule has changed. The two options I found were to write either early or late.

I am a confessed night owl (hence the pun with WriteOwls), so my money was on the night time. I have been surprised to discover, however, that evenings are not a great time for me to write. Instead, evenings work better for spending time with my family and catching up on things around the house. Because I have traditionally stayed up late, I’ve already scheduled things to do at night, and I had trouble fitting another thing (writing) into my nightly schedule.

On the other hand, I’ve always hated waking up early, and my generally quiet personality is reduced to silence for the first hour of most days. Over the years people who didn’t know me very well would occasionally suggest we meet for breakfast. I never went. Wake up early so I could go to a restaurant surrounded by strangers and talk to someone? Ugh. No thanks. How about lunch? People soon learned my ways or decided we weren’t such compatible friends after all.

Perhaps I’ve been able to write more consistently in the mornings because I am not a morning person. My family members aren’t used to spending time with me during the first hour of the day, so no one misses me when I slip into my office to write.

Of course, there’s still the problem of dragging myself out of bed to actually write, and I’ll admit that hasn’t been easy. But once I managed it for a few days in a row, I was so thrilled with the progress I made on my manuscript that it became easier to leave the comfort of my bed for my hard wooden desk chair.

I’ve also found that explicit reminders of my goal help jog my sleepy memory about exactly why my alarm is going off so early. My phone allows me to name various alarms, so the morning one now reads, “Get up and write.” After some angst, I removed the snooze option.

Accountability also helps. My husband gets up early for work, so I told him my goal, and he’s usually at the bedside with a guilt-inducing, “Aren’t you going to write this morning?” if I manage to ignore my alarm.

My biggest struggle has been forcing myself to go to bed earlier so that I can write in the mornings without sacrificing too much sleep, which we all know is important for maintaining our health and clever brains. So now I also have an alarm for the evening that says, “Go to bed. You have to write in the morning.”

Since I’ve been writing more consistently in the mornings, I’ve noticed that my revision process is going more smoothly because I’m keeping my head in the story world and don’t have to spend any of my writing time remembering where I left off. I’m also better able to take advantage of other blocks of time as they come up. Who knew this night owl would write so well in the cold light of day?

When have you been able to find consistent writing time? What makes it work for you?

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