Unlike many members of my family, I’ve been a morning person my entire life. When I was a kid, I used to love taking my dog Bingo out for early morning walks when everything in the neighborhood was quiet. I felt like we were the only ones awake and we had the whole area all to ourselves. (Bingo thought it was pretty cool too.)
As a morning person, it’s not a surprise that I prefer to write in the morning. In my discussions with other writers, I’m often amazed at how many of them don’t really consider when they write.
Although it’s vital that you write something regularly, when you write can be important too. Creativity is like anything else; it ebbs and flows. Mine ebbs down to pretty much zero after about 4 pm.
It’s not like I can’t write in the late afternoon (and I do sometimes), but it’s easier if I schedule my writing time earlier in the day.
I’ve found that, at least for me, it’s helpful to break up your writing. The process of writing falls into four phases: idea generation, writing, editing, and sometimes formatting.
If you perform each task separately when your mind is at its best for that activity, you can be a lot more productive. Here’s how the process has been working out for me:
1. Idea generation. When I started trying to write every day, my biggest worry was that every morning, I’d sit there staring into space trying to figure out what to write. Then I had an obvious idea: come up with a topic the night before. Now after work, my husband and I toss around writing ideas while one or the other of us is making dinner. I take notes on a scrap of paper and put it on the dining room table.
2. Writing. In the morning, while I’m drinking my coffee, I look over my notes from the night before. Then I go to my office and answer a few emails while my brain wakes up. Once I feel reasonably coherent, I settle in to write the article.
3. Editing. After my article is written, I print it and toddle across the hall to my husband’s office and give it to him to read and copyedit. A little while later, he returns it, and I read it over again and edit it myself.
4. Formatting. Depending on where the article is being used, it may require additional formatting in Word or conversion to HTML. I do this type of work in the afternoon, since it doesn’t require many active brain cells.
Since I made a commitment to writing every day, this system has been working well. By being sensitive to the fluctuations of my own creativity, I find I’m getting more writing done and enjoying the process a lot more.
If you’ve been feeling discouraged about your writing progress, see if you can take steps to reorient your day to take advantage of your most (and least) creative times.