Question: How Do I Write At Night When I’m Already Tired?

Last weekend I had the privilege of conducting a workshop at a local community college’s annual writers’ conference. There I met 25 or so eager writers who attended my session, “Night Shift Authors: How to Write Around Your Day Job.” It was an exhilarating hour of information about finding time to write.

Well, as I explained in the workshop, the issue isn’t always about your time; quite often it’s about your skill. More about this point in a future post.

The workshop covered working/writing myths and how to debunk them, how to set writing goals based on book genres, and how to create a writing schedule. I shared several writers’ apps, tools and tips to help keep their writing flexible. We didn’t have time to dive into the attendee’s questions so I’m posting them here with the answers I possibly would have given. Maybe there are other night writers among us with similar concerns.

“It’s not necessarily your time; it could be your skill.”

This first question is one most night writers can identify with. One attendee asked, “How do I write at night when I’m already tired? My eyes are blurred and after a short time I don’t even understand what I’ve written.”

It’s possible to take a week to answer this question. However, I’ll limit it to this one post. My response might cover a few more common issues of night writers. Instead of diving into an answer, I’d begin by asking a few questions to get a clearer picture of the dilemma.

First, I would have asked about the setting. Is it a room filled with people engaged in activity when you’re trying to write? Next, I would ask if you’d eaten before beginning the writing task. Last, I would ask if there was using music in the background.

“Music can create an inspirational writing atmosphere.”

Based on the answers to these questions, my suggestions might be as follows:

  1. Keep some water or juice nearby to help stay refreshed.
  2. Consider adding music to your writing ritual. It might be what’s needed to create a more lively atmosphere. When you take a break on your day job, try searching for something soothing. The right music can make all the difference for any writing session.
  3. A catnap could be the very thing to awaken you prior to writing. If you put off writing for 30-45 minutes to get some rest, it should be enough to move forward.
  4. This next suggestion should go over well. How about moving your writing away from home? Could you stop at a library or an eatery one or two evenings a week and do your writing there rather than doing it at home? Lots of eateries and coffee shops are open until 10 pm.
  5. If you can’t make use of the away-from-home scenario, consider creating a writing corner. This would be a place other than your normal writing space. This could create a fresh attitude toward the evenings’ work.

Have you faced this same issue? How did you resolve it? Feel free to comment on this post and share your own experiences. If you’re not having this issue, share one you are having and I’ll tackle it in a future post.

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