Writers are always looking for little tricks, tips from other writers on how best to accomplish “successful” writing. You can find books and websites on plot, character, structure, just about anything you can think of—I even spotted one on locations to write (the best would be, of course, on a beach in Maui with a laptop—and no worries about money…of course). But I think one of the least talked about ingredients to writing is the “when,” the best time to write.
So when is the best time?
When I was younger, my prime writing time was from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. Granted, back then my daytime hours were generally filled with school or (after graduation) full-time employment…which was retail until the publishing caught up with me. Fortunately for me, that was only a couple of years. But I’d often come home from an 8 hour shift, do whatever, and then around 10 p.m., crank into high gear. It didn’t matter whether I’d gotten off of work at 5 p.m. or at 9 p.m.
In addition, back then, I didn’t have the “distraction” of the internet. Even though I’ve had email nearly since Al Gore created it, I can hardly go more than a few hours without feeling the need to check my email these days. That’s only been in the last 10 years.
After I got married, I had a pretty regular routine: wake up at 8, kiss BJ goodbye. Back to bed until 10. Watch The Avengers until 11, while I ate my bowl of cereal. Take care of “housekeeping” until Noon, when I’d have lunch with BJ. Run errands from 1-3, which was generally making copies and stopping by the comic shop. Return home, write until BJ got off. Spend time with BJ until she went to bed around 9. Start writing until about 2 a.m.
Kids stopped that schedule. Well, that and the job with Malibu—which, regrettably, didn’t afford me as much writing as I’d have liked.
When I was writing Buying Time and The Gifted, which I hope to peddle real soon, I found that most of my bulk work was being done from around 9 a.m. until noon, then again after lunch until around 3 or so. Key ingredient—the house was empty.
That, I think, is the secret.
Part of writing is having to read, to think, to plan, to scheme, to rethink, to plot… It’s hard to do that with frequent interruptions. Writers have to be able to fully immerse themselves into the world they’re creating, and generally for long chunks of time.
So, if you’re a writer struggling with the process, examine your schedule. Find out when you have the longest span of uninterrupted time—that span will likely turn out to be the “best” time to write. Fortunately for us, everyone has a different schedule, so the “best” time will be different with each writer. And if you have to, unplug the phones and disconnect the internet—it’ll go a long way toward getting writin’ done!