The writing habit – when to write

Today I want to discuss the habit of writing – good habits, bad habits, how to make and break habits. I’m sure there are millions of other posts about this out there, but none by me, so:

As I write this, it’s 00:42am. I’m sniffling through a blocked-up nose, and generally feeling like my head is filled with cotton wool. I should, by all accounts, be in bed. I should’ve been in bed three or four hours ago in fact. Yet here I am.

I’m not going to claim this is anyone’s fault except my own. For years now I have cultivated the habit of writing in the evening. This used to mean writing at around 7pm-9pm. I’m aware that getting some words down each day is an important habit, so this mean trying to bash out 1000-2000 words, or 500 words and some editing. Usually a good timeslot.

Then everything changed. I won’t go into details, but my life turned upside down. Now I find myself working all day at a pace set by myself to combat the frantic emptying of my bank account. Writing is one of my three main businesses, and I can be working on the other two until 11pm at night. This, of course, means that writing comes in at 11pm-1am, or sometimes later (like tonight, when I have to handle my blog).

All in all, this is a bad habit by anyone’s standards. Yes, I get words onto paper, but some are so incoherent from sleepiness that they get thrown out the very next day. Very few make the cut.

However, I get the feeling I’m not the only one with such bad habits. Except for the very few very lucky people who make a full living from writing, writing is almost a luxury. It has to be done between other paying work. It has to be done as a labour of love as much as anything else. I’m not, however, saying that being part of a crowd makes this acceptable.

If you find writing this late at night works for you, great. If, however, it is the last thing you turn to of a day, and you find it becoming difficult, this is a plea to you. Don’t let your writing suffer from your habits. Find some way to carve out writing time at a better hour. Even if it’s just jotting notes while you’re on the bus, or proof-reading in your lunch break. Don’t let writing become a chore. Writing should be a pleasure.

Me? I’m on the fence. I love writing, so I stay up far too late, but even I have to admit that this is bad for my health. Time to pull my writing time closer to evening rather than night-time. Even if that means writing porn around the dinner table with my family.