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Writing at Night

August 27th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
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I have been considering working at night. Since the bubba came I am dog tired. But it’s surprising how much you can do on little sleep. So here’s what I’ve been thinking – I have to get up around 3 in the morning anyway to feed the boy. Why not stay up an extra hour and get some writing done?

I have often said that I need to carve out some more spaces to do my writing. But now that we have a baby to look after, these spaces present themselves even less. While he is awake, there is always something that needs doing – feeding, nappy, making more feeds… if he’s having a grizzly day it literally doesn’t stop. I try to do as much as I can for him at the weekends, as my wife takes care of him throughout the week. Still, it usually ends up that I take care of him Saturday, and we do it together Sunday.

Dog tired

Image by Dave Fayram on Flickr

The point is that, as much as I advocate routines and setting time aside, no time is sacred when you have a baby. It seems like the only time I could realistically set aside would be when mum and baby are both asleep. This, of course, was the original theory behind getting up early on a Saturday to write, now scuppered by that being precisely the time boy wants his first feed of the day.

There’s obviously a hideous and treacherous balancing act here. Do I risk throwing my sanity at the face of tiredness, only to have tiredness catch it in its mouth and chew it to mush? After all, it’s not just my writing and parenting I have to worry about – I also have a day job. Tiredness there can be difficult to work with, but planning helps. I write out a list of things I have to do that day before I do anything else. This comes from a master list (a spreadsheet) that I update whenever a new task comes along, so I don’t miss anything. Whatever extra I do at night, I’ll have to stop if it becomes detrimental to my day job.

While considering this idea, I did come up with something of a plan. For a start, my wife will have to take the boy for some time during the weekend to allow me to do some writing. As far as the night time sessions go, it’s not likely that I’ll be able to stand doing this every night. I will need to keep some nights for something approaching a recovery. That makes me want to pick nights in the middle of the week – so that I can cope with the horror of Mondays (just call me Garfield) and don’t pile tiredness on tiredness (too much) towards the end of the week, when I’m likely to be feeling tired anyway. So, that makes Tuesday and Wednesday sound good. Plan = stay up an extra hour after feeding to do some writing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Done.

The only way of seeing if this is possible is to give it a go. This weekend is a bank holiday here in the UK, so provides a great opportunity to ease my way into this tortuous routine (I should probably go into it with a better attitude). I should be slightly more recovered with an extra day at home. But aside from reckless experimentation, I’d like to know if any of our readers have adopted a similar routine. Do you write at weird times? Do you find you get more done at particular times of the day or night? I want to hear all your crazy schedules!

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  • Craig

    Sanity is over-rated anyway.  As is sleep as it happens.  Most recent scientific studies (those darn scientists!) state that it is actually harmful to your health to sleep for more than eight hours a night anyway.  Five hours is all that you need really.  So health or sanity, its your choice.

    But yes, I find writing at night can be more productive.  For a start, there are far fewer things to distract you.  Writing during the day seems a little more like ‘work’ while writing at night is more like indulging your passions (easy there), so it can feel more productive.  Of course, I don’t have a child to look after.  Or a job for that matter, so its all relative.

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    Writing at night is less distracting? THE INTERNET IS ALWAYS THERE!

    Do you have any links for these scientific studies? I’d like to do some further reading on it.

  • Craig

    That sounds an awful lot like you want to procrastinate on the internet instead of doing some writing…

    As for links, uh, no I don’t.  I didn’t read this stuff online, I think I got it from magazines or some such.  I’ll google it and let you know.