Thursday, September 15th, 2011

You Should Write at Night to Be More Productive

So, I wrote a few days ago that I’m a more productive writer in the evening.

Quite a few folks weighed in on the subject, including several who posted to lists I frequent, as well as private email. People wrote at all times of day, and for various reasons:

– early birds who get up before dawn while it’s still quiet
– parents who write at night after the kids go to bed
– students who find time to write in between classes
– etc.

Writer Jeff Goins postulates on his blog that everyone should write at night to be more productive. In a guest post there by, Jonathan Manor, he states:

The reason that most writers — “good” writers — choose to write at night, is because their mornings, afternoons, and early evenings have filled their bodies with inspiration.

I don’t know about you, but my mornings, afternoons and early evenings usually fill me with fatigue, a healthy dose of workplace annoyance and rush-hour traffic agitation. There’s not much inspiring about the routine (except the thought that I’ll *finally* have time to write when I get home).

Do you agree or disagree with Manor?

16 comments to You Should Write at Night to Be More Productive

  • Gayle G.

    I find journal writing to be easier in the morning-just 20 minutes of fleshing out ideas or just getting down thoughts on paper. For more focused writing, anytime of day really, but most often at night during the long, hot summer.

    • Hi Gayle – I’ve always wanted to journal. I’ve tried, but I lack the discipline to stick with it. Your idea of tracking ideas daily has me intrigued though. Do you find it helps you with your writing later in the day? I just might have to give it a try.

      • Gayle G.

        I definitely like the early morning tracking because it helps me to remember things much better and to put my writing tasks in a manageable order. Plus, it keeps me from staring at the screen later in the day:)

  • Thanks for the link, Kelly. I actually find that writing in the morning can be a good thing — with inordinate amounts of coffee!

    • Hi Jeff! You’re welcome. And thanks for stopping by.

      So true about the coffee! I’m up early today to write (since I have the day off) and I’ve got a pot working right now. It’s not my favorite time to write, but today’s not looking so bad: There’s nothing out there to distract me yet!

      Love your site, btw. I’ve been stalking around for a few months now. Loved the serendipity of our posting similar thoughts so close together. 🙂

      (Folks, do check out Jeff Goin’s site if you get the chance. He blogs about influence, inspiration, making a difference, marketing, motivation, productivity, and writing. It’s all relevant.)

  • As soon as the words “Everyone should…” are uttered, my skepticism flag goes up. Unless that person is talking about being intelligent, compassionate, or honest, such broad generalizations are arrogant and useless. It shows an utter obliviousness to the enormous diversity among people in creative styles and pragmatic obligations. Sharing what one does oneself in hopes that it might resonate with someone else is fine. But stating that “Everyone should do just like me,” is nothing but egotism. Worse still is stating that most “good” writers do. (I wonder what the use of quotation marks is supposed to suggest?) Has a study been done to verify this assertion?

    Personally, I find that I do my best writing when I am fresh and well-rested. By evening I am tired, my thinking isn’t as quick or sharp. I find it more difficult to conjure the right word, to keep in mind a complex plot or line of thought. Prose produced in the early part of the day requires much less editing and revision than that which I produce at night. However, I write when I am inspired to write, if at all possible, whatever the time of day. I can always go back and fix it in the morning.

    • Hi Justine

      I tend to agree with you on the “everyone should…” I remember it mostly in the context of T/F quizzes in college. If the question started with “Every…” or “All…” etc. you knew the answer was false because there’s “always” an exception. (Ha, see me using always?) 🙂

      But having had time to think, I like Manor’s idea that by the evening we’re filled with ideas from the day. Many’s the time I’ve been sparked to write something because of an event that happened during the day. Where do you sit on that issue?

      (Thanks for stopping by!)

    • “Always” and “never” send up red flags for me, too. This example is funny because I’ve often heard people suggest the opposite. (You should write first thing in the morning, while your mind is still emerging from the dream state, so you can access “deeper” material you would block out by the time you were fully awake.) Different strokes.

      • Hi Faith!

        I’ve always heard that folks should write in the morning when they’re well-rested and fresh. The being able to access deeper, dream state information is new to me. (But it sounds really cool. There must be a sci-fi story in there somewhere! 🙂 ) I wonder if folks who can’t ever remember their dreams (like me!) can reap the same benefits on the subconscious level. Do you know if we can?

        Thanks for stopping by!

  • Anytime anyone leaps from “this works for me” to “everyone SHOULD do this” it makes me cringe, particularly when it involves artistic creation or expression. It seems to me to be a bit ego-maniacal to assume that your own habits are a template for the world at large. In my experience, inspiration rarely works for one person in the same exact way it works for another. Despite this, books and seminars abound based on the idea that someone who has “made it” can give you their formula for success and it will work for you just like it did for them. Personally, I prefer to choose my guides, mentors and teachers with a tad bit more humility and “other-awareness” than that.

  • Christie M

    I agree that the “everyone should” dictum hides a personal preference. Personally I crash as soon as the sun goes down and any writing I do slops into the Duuuh… mode. Late morning-early afternoon, when the light is strong, are my best times.

  • Roxanne Bland

    IMHO, “good writers” write whenever they can–morning, noon or night. I write whenever my time allows, no matter when that might be. On weekends, I tend to write during the day. During the week, I tend to write at night because my day job has a nasty habit of getting in the way during the light hours. But to say that every “good writer” should write at night is just plain egotistical.

    • Hi Roxanne!

      I totally agree! Manor’s “good writers” comment hit me harder than the “everyone should” bit, which most folks have commented on. I’m with you: whenever time allows! 🙂

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