One question that I get asked often is when is the best time to write- do you write 3-pages as soon as you get out of bed (The Artist’s Way Morning pages)? Do you write as if you were in a regular job 8am-5pm? Do you write even when you know it’s awful or only when you are inspired?
I’m not sure that there’s any one right answer to any of these questions, and since the beginning of the year I’ve been aware of my writing patterns. For me, 4:00-10:00am is definitely my best creative writing time. This is usually met with protests from my husband who hates it when he wakes up and I’m not there beside him.
I work better by deadlines and find it difficult to work on my own creative works before the daily grind/daily deadlines. I’ve been working to shift this so I work on one creative project at the beginning of the day. In the afternoon I lull, where something mindless like bills or paperwork, even though it’s morning, I can usually rumble through. And somewhere in the afternoon or evening I get a second wind.
The zone- the zone comes when I can put everything else aside, hide the to-do list, forget the deadlines and focus solely on the project. To me, this is where mission and vision come into play, and when I can let go of all the other nagging things to do, I can fully surrender myself to the purpose of the work. Even if the work seems mundane, the intention behind it is an important part of succeeding at completion or raising the bar of quality of work I can produce.
When we began our writing contracts, I used to take every single contract I could get my hands on, as we all do starting out, hungry for work. Even though it’s tougher, I know try only to work that I know I can fully stand behind because my commitment and value to the work will be even greater.
Forcing the words does not work for me. In the entire creative process, I have a long incubation period. I used to think this was procrastination, but I’ve noticed the differences of incubation/germination and actual procrastination, which usually involves picking housework over writing or working. The day before a deadline, I might be scrambling to get my notes together, but the actual writing comes without hesitation. I’ve learned that if I sit there and can only write three words in an hour, it is much better to stop, even if it means getting up early the next day.
How do you discover your best writing time? Become aware of your day! When do you feel the most energized, inspired, or motivated? When do you feel like pushing the button on the remote control is difficult? What environment makes you excited or deflates any life inside? Try to take those high-energy, inspirational moments and use them to your advantage and expand them.
And if nothing else, sit down to write!
Megan Cutter, www.cuttersword.com