Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why You Should Be Writing at Night

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Jonathan Manor. Jonathan Manor is a dating and self improvement blogger. He is obnoxious, insecure, and above all else, awesome. He blogs at Evening Revolution. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanManor.

Like most writers starting out, I thought that writing was an all day event.

From the moment you got out of bed, you were supposed to be sitting in front of your computer, until the moment you were heading back into bed. That’s simply not the best way to go around with writing.

Writing at Night

Photo credit: Alex Kehr (Creative Commons)

The problem

Even though you’re devoting so much time to writing, you have to question what you’re getting out of it other than time consumption.

The next time you devote a whole day to writing, track down how many pages you wrote. After that, then question how many of those pages were good writing.

There’s a difference between cranking out pages of writing, and cranking out really good pages of writing.

A lot of great writers, authors, bloggers, and freelancers choose to spend their nights writing.

A few months ago, I read an article proposing that the best time to write was in the morning, before you get into the shower, before you step out of your pajamas, and even before you decide to brush your teeth.

On an empty stomach, when your mind was completely clear, this article said that that was the best time to write. If your mind is completely clear, wouldn’t it be clear of creativity too?

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.

Not only is writing before you brush your teeth incredibly bad hygiene, but it makes writing become a race to the finish.

A race to the finish?

Writing should never be a race to the finish.

It should be a long immersion in a hot tub or a relaxing meditation.

Good writers write at night, because it’s devoid of distraction, there’s nothing else left to do in the day, there’s no one else to hurry to. It’s simply just you being yourself and pouring out the emotions that you’ve gathered from your day time experience and using that creativity to create something beautiful and interesting.

I, personally, designate a time to write “good” pages between the hours of 10:30pm to 3:00am. At a certain point of my writing career, I decided to get a normal day job working part time for a interior decorating store and it’s been the most valuable decision I’ve ever made for my writing.

I get paid minimum wage to stare at people, talk to people, and savor what it’s like to have a normal life. It’s more productive than staring at a computer monitor every morning hoping for inspiration to come.

Getting to bed by 3:00am gives me the opportunity for a healthy night’s sleep where I could wake up at 10am and get to work by noon. Sleep is important, never skip out on sleep, meals, and play time.

Designating a writing shift gives you the opportunity for all three of these things.

Getting the Most Out of Night Writing

If you want to try writing at night, here’s how you can spend those evenings:

1. Have a plan

Whether you’re a freelance writer, author, or blogger, it’s always good to have a plan.  J.K. Rowling, the author to the Harry Potter series, writes outlines to her chapters on a piece of binder paper before she starts writing.

This type of planning is important because it provides the writer with a direction and keeps them focused.

2.  Take breaks

It may seem appealing to want to spend every minute of your designated writing time purely writing.  However, fighting off starvation isn’t going to help.

Geoff Colvin states in his book, Talent is Overrated, that the most prestigious violin players choose to practice for two or three sessions of an hour and a half with breaks in between.

3. Just write

The hardest part of writing isn’t the sitting down part. It’s not the part where you open up your laptop. It’s where you finally push out your first few sentences and build momentum that’ll fuel the rest of your work.

By planning what you’ll be writing ahead of time, the only real work you’ll have to put in is getting that first sentence to budge.

Everything should be smooth sailing from there.

Have you ever written at night? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Alex Kehr (Creative Commons)

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About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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