History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

When is the Best Time to Write?

There’s a lot of writing advice that tells new authors that they should write every day, that they should make time in their schedule for writing, and so on. And while in an ideal world, authors could write every day, the reality of life is that many of us don’t have that luxury. Instead, I would suggest that what’s more valuable for new authors is learning when the best time for them to write is and attempting to make good use of that knowledge.

I get up fairly early, even in these days of work from home. But I also know that I’m not at my best in the morning. I can read emails and social media, maybe play some games, but I won’t be able to write coherent words. I work fairly standard hours, and while I’m working, I’m only able to make quick notes if a story idea comes to me.

However, I’m fastidious about taking an hour long lunch as frequently as I’m able to do, which winds up being most days. During my lunch break, I can get some writing tasks done–I can usually work on blog posts or processing rejection emails. Sometimes, I can send stories out on submission. But I can also get some words in–if I’m working on a novel, it’s not unusual for me to get about 1,000 words or one scene written during my lunch break, even with time to prepare and eat my food. If I’m doing a monthly challenge, my lunch break is also typically adequate to write a poem or maybe get a rough draft of a flash fiction piece, too.

The bulk of my writing time, however, comes in the evenings, after work. Then I’ve got a chunk of time that is sometimes as long as four hours, if we have a quick dinner and I don’t mind staying up after my husband goes to bed. That gives me time to work on short stories, other blog posts, story submissions, and any other writing tasks that need to get done. So arguably, that would be my more productive writing time.

The real secret for me, though, is that if I can struggle through the first hour or so of not really being fully awake in the morning on the weekends, I can get a lot more writing done if I start my day with it. So ideally, I should try to structure my mornings differently during the week, too, so that perhaps I could get some good writing in before I start my work day.

That’s hard for me, though. Getting up early in the morning is not something that comes naturally to me. An earlier bedtime might help, but it might also just allow me to get more sleep than usual. So I have to balance my desire to sleep and my desire for getting writing time. And honestly, the former often wins out.

But other authors might be perfectly suited to burning the late night hours with writing, and they may have their most productive writing time then. And others might be able to work with fifteen minutes here and there where they can grab the time. The trick is to look at your day and your writing and figure out what you can make work for you. Maybe that’s the same time, every day, for an hour at a time. Maybe it’s the moments you can steal on the bus or on a break from work. But knowing what works best for you is a matter of some trial and error, and ultimately it’s about writing when you can, and not worrying about arbitrary goals of writing daily or producing a set amount of words every day. Even one sentence a day is one more sentence than you had previously, and that’s progress!


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