I must admit I gulp when I read about someone who writes 2,000 words before breakfast. If I wrote any words before breakfast, they would be total gibberish.
I am not a morning person. When I was working, a colleague once said, “Don’t ask Paula anything before ten thirty if you want a sensible answer.” Now I wonder how I actually managed to teach my first class of the day. Or second, or even third.
I’m a night owl. I’ve always been a night owl. When I was a child, I read books under the covers by flashlight long after my parents thought I was asleep. As a teenager, I wrote screeds in my diary every night. Well, at that age, you have to write down everything the latest heart-throb said or did, don’t you? Actually, I didn’t have a diary. I had a cardboard folder, and by the end of the year it was about an inch or so thick. I wish I’d kept it. It would probably be hilarious to read now.
I wrote stories as a teenager too. I waited until my parents had gone to bed, and then I switched on my light, and wrote. My friends eagerly awaited the next instalment of my romantic stories, and I couldn’t disappoint them, could I? For ‘romantic stories’, read cheesy, chaste novellas. Come on, this was the late fifties, before the swinging sixties had been invented!
Most of the sixties was taken up with university, dating, getting married, and having babies, so fiction writing took a back seat. When I did start writing again, it had to be in the evenings, when the babes were asleep. What the neighbour thought about me pounding away every evening on one of those ancient upright typewriters, I dread to think. They must have been relieved when I eventually progressed to a less noisy portable typewriter.
Then I returned to teaching, so again writing was abandoned. Occasionally I wrote short stories and also did a series of magazine articles for several years but, because of family and schoolwork, my writing had to be done in the evenings, of course.
So what happened when I retired? I didn’t immediately start writing again, but when I did, guess what? I wrote in the evenings. I still do. Even if I have a free day, my brain still seems to be programmed to switch into creative mode in mid-evening. Then I can go on until about 1a.m – so it’s perhaps as well I don’t have to get up very early the next morning.
I could probably write a lot more if I trained myself to write during the daytime, but why break the habit of a lifetime?