The right time to write

Ringing alarm clock.

Photo by flickr user Alan Cleaver

There have been plenty of discussions, both online and off, about successful writing habits. One of the most common questions I hear from new/aspiring writers is, “What’s the best time to write?” My answer: “When you have the time.”

But seriously, there is no “best time” to write; the best time is simply what works best for you. That could be 4:00 in the morning before your kids are up, or it could be 7:00 at night when you get home from work. The more you experiment with different schedules, the more you’ll figure out what works for you. Some people swear by writing first thing in the morning, when they feel less inhibited creatively. Personally, I can barely form a complete sentence when I first wake up, and exerting any real energy before breakfast is out of the question. I’m a night writer; once I’ve done everything else on my to-do list for the day, I can focus better on writing and am far more productive.

Recently, I’ve even started experimenting with middle-of-the-night writing. If I can’t fall asleep, I’ll start thinking about whatever is giving me trouble with my current WIP, and often I’ll come up with new ideas. Instead of jotting down a few notes and rolling over, I’ve started actually writing these scenes longhand. So far, this is working so well that I may add it to my regular writing routine. I’m sure this type of routine would make some of you cringe, and I encourage you to experiment (as much as your work/family/other commitments allow) to find the time that works best for you.

Moving past time of day, let’s talk about frequency. There’s this myth that you have to write every day, and that if you don’t write every day, you’re not a “serious” writer. That’s ridiculous. A serious writer is someone who takes his/her work seriously. Period. If you set aside time and commit to your writing, you’re a serious writer, whether you write for two hours a week or twenty. Some writers have busier schedules than others, and may only have time to write on the weekends. If that’s you, and that works for you, that’s okay. You don’t have to write every day.

Let me say that again. You don’t have to write every day.

I choose to write every day, because that’s what works best for me. I’m a creature of habit, and it makes sense for me to include writing in my daily routine. But if you don’t write every day, that doesn’t make you any less serious or committed than those of us who do. It just means you have different work habits.

Bottom line: the best time to write is the time that works best for you.

What are your thoughts on writing routines? What times are you most productive?

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