Help! Morning? Night? When do you write?

Heh, that rhymes.

I used to be strictly a morning/daytime writer, but as my kidlet’s schedule has changed, mine has had to adapt. I had two choices: stop writing or learn to be a nighttime writer. I chose option 2, obviously, but I’m not going to lie and say it was an easy transition. It wasn’t. I’ve never been a night owl, not even in college. I get tired, and I really, really value my sleep. The first couple of weeks I started writing at night, I turned out nothing but crap. I’d read it over the next morning, throw myself a pity party (and maybe, just once or twice, chuck a pen across the room in despair).
But as time went on, my brain got used to having to be creative during those nighttime hours. My writing started to get better, and then it even became good. I got into a rhythm where the words just started flowing. And then I started to lose track of time. I set a midnight expiration date for myself, but there were some nights I would look at the clock and it would be 2 or 3 in the morning.
Which leads me to THE PROBLEM. You guys, I cannot shut my brain off and go to sleep. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. I try sticking to the midnight cut-off, but then I go to bed and toss and turn, thinking of ways one scene needs to be changed, or how I need to add depth to a certain character. I got two hours of sleep Sunday night, a whopping five on Monday, and three last night. I feel like a zombie, and I have to chase after a toddler all day. Something’s gotta change because this is not working.
So consider this a call for help!

Night owls, please please please tell me how you manage to wind down, turn off the writer brain and fall asleep at the end of the day. Tips, tricks, let me know—I’m desperate!
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7 Responses

  1. Holly Dodson says:

    For me, I make notes. All those thoughts rumbling around in my head *must get out* before I can sleep. So just a quick note of, "add dialogue here, smooth out this segue," etc makes me able to finally shut down and go to sleep.

  2. Meredith says:

    I love that idea, Holly! I can still set my deadline, but jot down everything else still swimming around in my head to work on the next day. I'm going to try this tonight. Thank you!!

  3. Shopgirl says:

    Holly sorry to comment on your comments. It's a great idea but I can't do notes either. I envy those who can walk around jotting down notes from their head onto paper and later make sense out of them. For me, writing is a release, and it usually pours out freely once I am in front of a computer. But if I've done it once (on paper or …) I am done. *Editing* is different though.

  4. Alicia Gregoire says:

    Another way to shut the brain off is to read before bed. It sometimes works for me.

  5. Pam Harris says:

    It takes me a while to wind down, too. I agree with Alicia, reading kind of soothes me. But in all honesty, sometimes I pop 2 Benadryls and it gets the job done. :)

  6. Meredith says:

    Shopgirl, I can see that. I do sometimes have feelings of "I must get this out of my head and onto paper because I don't do this now, it will never be as good!" Fortunately, I'm in the editing process right now, but I think I'm screwed when I start actually writing from scratch again here soon. :)

    I've tried reading before bed, but my problem is that reading such a learning experience for me. I'll see something an author did that I like, and then I'll start thinking about how I did something in my writing, and that leads me on a tangent and suddenly it's 4 a.m. Maybe I should stick to nonfiction before bed—pick up one of the umpteen books on the financial crisis my husband has laying around—I bet that would work!

    Or just pop a Benadryl, which I absolutely did last night. :)

  7. Shopgirl says:

    Meredith, I can relate to your sleep problem, I get very high from becoming productive at night and I used to be more of a morning person too so I know how you feel. In fact in a recent post I admitted not sleeping past 3am for five years in a row (going to bed around 12am). I finally got through it with meditation and prayers. I respect others beliefs but for me I used Christian prayers and it worked very well. Good luck on getting some snooze!

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