If you’ve read Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals or Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings you’ve probably seen the charts and data that shows the rituals of writers and when they are at their literary best. Most people tend towards either being a night owl writer, or a morning person. Haruki Murakami is a morning person; Barack Obama is a night owl. Brian K. Vaughan was a night owl. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a morning person.
I’ve never been particularly good at focusing on writing after 8pm. The day just wears me out and I struggle to focus after 8-9pm. (He says, hitting post just before 9pm.) I’ve been trying to figure out why forever. I’ve tried powering through late at night for weeks now and it’s not working.
But now I know. I was down at the Cascades park and realized why I’m at my best writing in the morning. I jump out of bed at ten minutes to five am: I was a competitive swimmer in high school and we had morning practices.
I was in the pool ready to work at 6am. I was never a good competitive swimmer, but I was there. I showed up and did the work and it paid off my senior year: Five days a week morning practice, and in the afternoons. My writing patterns follow my swimming patterns, and since that pattern was created in my formative years as a teenager it’s hard to shake. It’s also why I’ve always struggled to work on anything that requires a lot of focus after 8pm because I knew that in order to get up and go to practice I had to be in bed by 9-10pm and that’s when my brain starts to shut it down.
Even in college, when I stopped swimming, I could never do an all-nighter study session or sleep past 10am which is considered ungodly early in college. It never bothered me because it got me up and moving and getting work done at least two hours before anyone else was up so that when it came time to chill out and…have a college life I was ready to go by 5-6pm. It’s also why I was never on academic probation. I went to class and got my work done before it was time to chill.
So does this serve me? Is this a good thing? I don’t know. But at least now I know why my writing mind works this way and I’m okay with it. Are you a morning person or a night writer?