Monday, 13 December 2010

When I write

It's been a quiet few days - as far as anything writing or book related goes, at least. I've been plugging away at Nine Lives, and in doing so I've discovered something rather surprising:

Like it or not, I write best in the morning.

This might not be a shock to you, but to me (and to anyone who knows me) it's rather a revelation. If you believe (and I do) that there are evening/night people, and morning people, I'm definitely the former. I can be so exhausted at 4.30 pm that I want to go to bed, yet I can guarantee that at 8pm I'll start to come alive, and by midnight, when I really ought to be going to bed, I'm totally awake, my mind firing on all cylinders (relatively speaking).

Yet, with writing, it seems to be different. I've tried writing at all times of the day, and contrary to what one might expect, I seem to be a morning writer. I work best if I set my alarm for 6.30. I drag myself out of bed at about 6.45, grope for my glasses, stumble towards the coffee machine. The house is still dark, the street outside quiet, not even the pug bothers to move. I slouch in front of my computer, still not quite sure where I am, much less why I'm awake, and with a minimum of reading back, I force myself to press on. I don't fully wake up for at least an hour or so. I don't check my emails, I don't even log onto Facebook. There's no point - not that early. I just write.

This peacefulness helps but I think it's actually the weird awake/not awake state that actually makes the difference. The barrier between the real world and the imaginary one seems easier to cross (perhaps because I'm not yet fully in either). My inner critic, though never gone completely, is half asleep. I'm not so hard on myself if I can't think of the right word or perfect metaphor, because hey, I showed up, didn't I? What I do come out with seems to emerge direct from the subconscious, half formed, and when I look back later, now fully awake, I'm sometimes genuinely surprised at what I've come up with (and occasionally in a good way!). I suppose it's no surprise really, after all many artists and writers have used drugs to take their mind elsewhere and unlock some mysterious part of their creativity; perhaps for me being half asleep goes some way towards achieving the same ends. It's not quite as rock 'n' roll though, is it?

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow I'll live dangerously and set my alarm for six...


Pimlicokid said...

Think you're right. Because I think of myself as a 'night person', it (sadly) doesn't follow that I'm a 'night writer'. Morning is undoubtedly best for me - but hard when I've been busy being a night person!

Ev said...

Fully agree - write best when the world is relatively quiet. Maybe we need to 'hear' the silence?