I’ve always been a night owl. As a child, I snuggled down under the covers with a flashlight, reading long after my parents thought I was asleep. As a teenager, I switched off my light when I heard them coming up to bed, and switched it on again once they closed their bedroom door, and then continued to write my latest cheesy romance story for my friends to read on the school bus the next day.
My inner clock had to adjust once I had my babies. Bed after the 10 o’clock feed, in the hope of 4 hours sleep before the next feed. Waking groggily at 6 am when toddlers were awake and rarin’ to start their day.
The evening became my friend. The time when the children were in bed, and I finally had some ‘me’ time. That was when I wrote my early novels.
Then, when the children were older, I was working again. Up early (groggily again!) to get them ready for nursery or school, and then on to my full-time teaching job. Some people envy teachers’ hours of work, without thinking of the hours they have to spend in their supposedly free time in the evenings and holidays. They seem to forget that lessons have to be prepared, worksheets designed, work marked, exams set and then graded (etc etc etc) in the evenings.
Even so, there were times when I stayed up late, again for ‘me’ time after the children were in bed, and the school work done, and wrote stories or articles.
I often regretted it the next morning, when I had to get up early! Morning was (is!) not my best time. A colleague once said, “Don’t ask Paula anything before 10.30 if you want a sensible answer.”
With retirement came freedom! But old habits die hard. I have discovered my ‘muse' tends to kick me about 9pm. I can write emails and letters during the daytime. I can compose blogs, and critique my CPs work. But my mind won’t cope with my own story writing until the evening, even when I'm actually looking forward to continuing the story from where I finished the previous evening.
If I could discipline myself to get into creative mode earlier in the day, I’d probably finish my stories much sooner. But my whole life seems to have been geared up to ‘me’ time in the evenings – which is why I often stay up late. No way could I get up early to write, or allocate mornings or afternoons, or ‘office hours’, as I know some people do. Maybe the only plus side of this is that I do write something every day. Sometimes 100 words, sometimes 2 or 3 thousand.
Do you have a favourite time to write? And if you do, what happens if you try to make yourself write at other times?