When to write?

Now that I’m writing this blog and thinking more about Getting Writing Done I’ve become more conscious of when I feel most like writing—late at night and early morning. These aren’t ideal because 1) while I could easily and happily stay up until 2 a.m. every morning writing this does not work for my life and daytime responsibilities, so I’m always fighting my natural night owl impulse to start working on something at 11 p.m.; and 2) due to my night owl-ness thought I might feel inspired in the morning there’s no time to write, as I struggle to wake up and have about negative 5-15 minutes before the morning routine/panic begins in earnest. I must also say that I have a tendency to let moments of inspiration pass me by when I’m doing other stuff. Like if I should be starting dinner or I’m doing laundry or need to run errands I don’t stop those to write. I seem to have the never ending opinion that I’ll get my life responsibilities out of the way and then I’ll have cleared everything out of my schedule to write. It’s a great recipe for never writing.

So I have a few options to improve my writing habits in a way that works with my schedule and when I’m inspired. I always fantasize about becoming the kind of person who wakes up early to jog and write Big Important Novels and makes egg-white omelettes all before 8 a.m. but the likelihood of me spontaneously becoming a totally different person seems low. So I’m going to release myself from those fantasies of becoming a morning person. Indulging in my desire to stay up late is something I can work with a bit. I can’t go full tilt into staying up as late as I like because I’d be chronically under-rested at all times and it’d be irresponsible of me to do that to myself, but what I can do is say “everything else stops at 9:30 p.m. and I write until 10:30.” That should still give me some time to unwind and get to sleep at a time that works with the rest of my life. And finally—the random moments. These I think I should take more advantage of by changing my way of thinking about how long those chores take. Like if I stop in the middle of Saturday chores for 5-30 minutes because I had a good idea, then chores will just take that much longer and that’s how long chores now take. Basically, I want writing to become a chore, in the sense that I should make it a non-optional part of my weekly tasks. Like, I don’t skip laundry because I also have to do groceries. Similarly I shouldn’t skip writing because I have laundry and groceries to do.

Maybe those are bad examples though… maybe it’s more like when you’re expecting your landlord to stop by “sometime this afternoon,” or are waiting for some trades person to arrive to do something, or you’re expecting someone you really need to talk to to call you back but you have no idea when. I often feel inspiration is an outside force so that seems more fitting. I can’t just not let the plumber in because I’m in the middle of making rice. So I shouldn’t not let inspiration in when I’m doing other must-do tasks. After all in the end I’ll be more satisfied with myself if I finish a project than if I finished cleaning up or whatever 20 minutes earlier.

The thing is writing is important to me. It matters to me that I get writing done. It’s more important to me than many of the other things I make sure I make time for. So I have to strike a good balance between guilt, health, responsibilities, and writing. Guilt: I am going to permanently shelve the idea of writing or doing anything else in the morning. I’m never gonna be that guy. Health: I’m going to get ready for the day early in the evening—pack my lunch and pick out clothes and stuff before 9:30 so I have the late evening free to write and also still get a reasonable amount of sleep. Responsibilities: let things take more time when that’s ok (ex. I’m not needed by someone at a specific time then it can wait a few minutes). Writing: clearly identifying for me to myself that this is a chore and priority, and then acting like it by making time for it—creating the conditions for it and considering it a “must” not a “when everything else is done.”