Night Mind



I’ve been reading a fair amount of non-fiction this year, from authors who have somehow made meaningful changes in their lives, or challenge you to make some yourself.  Alright, you might call them “self-help” books.  I’ll admit that some of them have been.  And some have been good.  Even really good.  So there.

Anyways, one theme I keep finding is that of using your time wisely.  Consensus seems to be that the wee hours of the morning, or at least the hours before noon, are the most productive.  There are tons of books that recommend getting your best work done early.  And I see the wisdom in that.  I have used the technique myself at work.  Trying to get something meaningful done at the end of a long work day is twice as hard as at the beginning.

Since becoming a mom, however, I have found that my mornings are, oh, fairly consumed.  (In have, somehow, found a little 20-minute window to go running, however.  Twice.  Then I came down with this laryngitis/cold thing, and have been recouperating.  A slow start to my march to 5K.  On the bright side, I did find my running shoes!  So, I’m not a total chump after all.  For those of you wanting an update).

I don’t know about the rest of you parents out there, but I would hazard a guess that most of your kids rise before you do.  Usually before you are willing to.  And once they rise, they are on.  It’s non-stop action around here from around 6am. So, at least someone in this house knows how to get things done in the morning.  Unfortunately, that leaves me little time for productivity on the personal front.  My solution is the only logical one.  Use the evenings.  Become productive after the kids go to bed.

Sometimes, I am feeling completely beat by this time, and my mind feels mushy.  Like my morning oatmeal.  But, somehow, just knowing I’ll get those few hours of “me” time gets me through it.  When I was writing my novel (said so matter-of-factly), I used the hours from 8pm-10pm almost exclusively.  And, something I found: I liked it.  I really liked it.

And here’s why: at night, anything seems possible. The farther into the night you go, the more your mind seems to wander.  Go there.  Far away from the reasonable.  The practical daytime mind. The night mind is so much more free.  Less edited.  Less inhibited.  Have you ever had a great idea in the middle of the night?  Upon waking it probably seemed insane to you.  Far-fetched.  Ridiculous.  But, under the cover of night, you probably imagined it solving all of your problems. Forever.

At least that’s the way it works for me.  So, I like writing at night.  Because the darkness blocks my inner editor.  It allows my mind to wander free.  Explore the territory between waking and sleeping.  And funny things happen then.  My story opens up in a new way.  Or, I find that I have written 2000 words without blinking.  Or I come up with that brilliant plot twist I was looking for.

I’m curious.  How does it work for you?  Do you think you’d be a better writer if you wrote at night?  Or would I be a better one if I wrote in the morning?  And what of life’s other challenges?

Maybe I am fooling myself.  But, I kind of like my nighttime mind.  At least for fiction.  Maybe my daytime mind should be reserved for non-fiction.  Now there’s a thought…