Writing At Night, When the Juices Flow (Second Draft Journal #4)

I seem to have a problem…

Nowadays, I only feel comfortable writing at night.

I noticed this habit forming during summer, but didn’t really do anything about it. Now that school has started and the hours available to be to write are significantly limited by unavoidable factors, my own consciousness cutting down on those hours based on some irrational desire to write when it’s dark out is becoming detrimental. And annoying, because I often have time during the afternoons (on light homework days or weekends) when I could be writing, but something holds me back.

Part of the reason is that the afternoon is more social for me. I’m more likely to be spending time with my family in the afternoon, rehashing what happened at school, watching TV, playing cards, or just wasting time together. I cherish the time I spend with my family (even if we’re just enjoying a TV show together). Since writing is a solitary activity that requires a lot of focus (verses some of my homework, which I can have conversations while doing), I won’t pick up my WIP if the rest of my family is socializing.

There is also the unavoidable fact that homework and studying take time. I try to get it out of the way when I get home from school (though I give myself around an hour of relaxation and eating time in between), so that I have the nights to relax or to get ahead, but I don’t always succeed. And sometimes, homework just fills up the entire night, leaving me no time for writing. (I’m a light-weight when it comes to staying up late, and I have to be in bed by 10:30/11 or I’m a zombie the next morning.)

But I think there is something else going on, and I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced this. During the day, I tend to feel self-conscious about my writing, as if someone is looking over my shoulder (even if they really aren’t). At night, especially when the rest of my family is sleeping, that self-consciousness falls away and my writing gets freer.

I also like the way that tired-ness affects my writing; sometimes it helps me “loosen up.” I’m not saying that full-on exhaustion helps me write (I already admitted how horrible I am with sleep-deprivation), but when I’m slightly tired, I worry less about every word I put down on the page and focus more on getting into the rhythm of the story. While this leaves me with some inelegant sentences, I ultimately value making progress in my story over agonizing over writing perfect sentences the first time around.

Getting to the end of the day also clicks my brain out of “school mode” and into a mindset where I feel closer to the story that I’m writing (oh my God that sounds so cheesy). I’m no longer worrying about school–I know all of my homework is done and that I’m ready for the next day–and I can finally relax into thinking about my personal projects. Additionally, because I make a habit of thinking about my WIP when I fall asleep, I think this has over time built up a Pavlov’s dog-type reaction to being tired and wanting to write.


Have any of you dealt with this? Does writing ever make you feel self-conscious? When do you feel comfortable writing?

Do you have a routine that you stick to, or do you just try to fit writing into whatever pockets of time you find (like me)? Do you have any advice for breaking this habit or forming a better one?

P.S. I wrote this blog post at night. It felt apropos. 

Poetry: Aha Moment

Suddenly, she cannot sleep

Tossing and turning

An uncomfortable search for comfort

Restless thoughts stumble

Into the shadowed land of

Profound

 

They say if you cannot sleep

You are awake in someone else’s

Dreams

And she wonders who would be dreaming

Of her.

She tosses and turns

And wonders if the ancients

Ever thought to have a god of sleep

To go with light and love and life

 

The next night

Just like the last

10:00, studying

Tea kettle shrieks

Automatic motions shush it

Reach for a tea bag

Drop, pour, stir.

 

Pause.

 

She reaches for the box of tea

Inspects each side

And realizes—

 

She had only assumed the tea

Was decaf.

Poetry: Four a.m.

Oh, hello, darling,

Four a.m.,

I was just dreaming of you

Thanks for the interruption

 

What should we think about?

(in the glow of the digital clock,

Counting off the traitorous minutes creeping past)

Maybe mistakes from years ago?

Just flashes left but they still hurt—

Of course you know that

That’s what you woke me up to tell me

 

Or maybe that blunder from

The other side of midnight

Still fresh—

Want to salt the wound?

The shaker is in the other room

But I still have some from

Last night, if you want

 

We could worry about tomorrow!

(Creeping closer in that backstabbing glow)

Mistakes on the horizon

Tests and failures

Conversations and humiliations

Fuel for tomorrow night’s…conversation

 

Or maybe you could invite our old drinking buddy

Imagination

To the party

I hear he has some suggestions

About tomorrow

Things could go so right

Or so wrong

 

Let’s think about what he has to say

Until it feels real

So that the illusion is perfectly blown glass

When reality shatters it in my chest

Tomorrow

Well, today—I guess tomorrow is technically today.