Posted by: Natalie | February 23, 2010

Early to bed, early to rise . . .

I still, at 28, can’t decide if I am a morning or a night person. All I know is I need sleep – and usually a good quantity of it. Anyone who knows me well enough can validate this; they have seen the tell tale signs, the wandering eye, the melting face – all signalling my need to go to bed. So when is the best time for me to write?

I have found two solutions, but there is often an exception to the rule. I sometimes find it best to work my hardest before I get dressed. I know this might sound strange, but often I wake up my head brimming full of ideas that I want to put into fruition. On these days, getting out of bed, showering and dressing works as a hurdle, making my head mushy and forgetful by the time I sit down.

But, I have to say, the most useful time is writing late into the night. I think this stems from my A’Level days, when I would be at college during the day and waitressing some evenings and all weekend. On my free nights, I would sit up until I don’t know when completing my art coursework. I would find this time the most peaceful and quiet, knowing the rest of the house was entirely mine, should I need it. I could be focussed. It did inevitably lead to me being exhausted and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I feel like I have been catching up on my sleep ever since!

So, this week I have the house to myself, every hour is available to me to write if I want to. So how come I don’t want to? Yesterday I wanted to have a PJ day. Its years since I enjoyed the luxury of not having to get dressed and I woke up with the determination to write well and write lots. But come lunch time I was bored with my pyjama-ed state and had failed miserably at writing anything I could say I was proud of. So I dressed and continued to sit staring at my computer for a while. No genius or creative instinct took over, but I did manage to sort out my car insurance!!

Writing, I believe, is something of an organic process. It has to happen in its own time. Obviously, you have to create the environment in which it can flourish. My main problem yesterday might have been that I set up camp on the sofa downstairs. The fact that the TV was off didn’t seem to matter. My brain felt stunted. Had I actually got my bum off the sofa and sat myself at my desk in my work room, who knows, a master piece may have flourished. But I rarely flump out on the sofa alone, so I didn’t move.

I do find complete silence unnerving though. I like to have the radio on in the background, or even a dvd playing (as long as it is something I have watched a million times), just so there is a little noise, I find it reassuring and comforting, much like a ticking clock. I think this is also one of the reasons evening writing seems to work out best, there are other noises around; Steve pottering in the kitchen, the neighbours talking loudly, cars driving around; all the little noises of life carrying on happily as my brain pours out all its imaginings. But I still didn’t move. I didn’t put on some background noise but switched on the TV and watched it. So unproductive I actually felt guilty!

But no matter, its ok to not write every now and again, I just have to make sure it doesn’t become a regular thing. Most days when I write, I manage to churn out somewhere between 2000 and 3000 words, which I think is pretty good going. Obviously some days are less, what with re-reading etc but I think I have been pretty dedicated and worked pretty damn hard. So, you know what? Stuff the fact that yesterday was a complete waste of time and the fact that my mum is on her way here and isn’t leaving until Wednesday night. So what if for three days I don’t put any quality work in? Those days when I work late into the night, only stopping for the occasional cup of tea, surely make up for these days of nothingness.

Besides, if we can’t indulge our slobbish side every now and again, what can we do? Fingers crossed, on Thursday my current story will have had the necessary breathing space and be filling my head again, ready to become immortalised in Microsoft Word! I shall let you know how it goes!

Apologies for the unfocussed waffle!




  1. Damn straight Nat – your internal creative genius knows when it needs a break, and flumpiness and waffling are its way of telling you so. We’re all very impressed with your dedication – you’ve done more with your writing in a year than I’ve done in the last ten. So don’t sell yourself short!

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