When’s The Best Time to Write?

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Many writers struggle with finding inspiration. They feel more inspired and productive at certain times during the day. When’s the best time to write for you?

We’ve polled a few of our readers and discovered that many Barefoot Writers like to get up early … before the rest of the house … so they can get in a good couple of hours of un- interrupted writing. They won’t check email or voicemail or surf the web before they’ve gotten their morning word count.

For example, Mark Ford is at his computer by 7:30 each morning. He dedicates at least an hour to his most important writing project … more if he’s going strong.

Are you an early morning writer? If so, you’re in good company. Check out the writing habits of these well-known authors.

When he first started out, John Grisham, author of legal thrillers like The Pelican Brief and The Firm, would be at his desk by 5:30 a.m., five days a week. His goal was at least a page before he had to start his day job as a lawyer.

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison is up before dawn. The habit started when she had young kids at home and was working full-time. But she continues today because she feels more clear-headed at that time of day.

Ernest Hemingway managed to get in 500 words a day. He started early to avoid the heat – a peril of working in tropical locales before AC – and write in peace and quiet.

Postmodern Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore is one of his better-known works) takes the cake. He starts writing at 4:00 a.m., working for five or six hours.

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10 Comments

  1. With my schedule,I start writing at about noon.But my mind is always working,I’ve often spent many sleepless nights coming up with some of my best work.In fact,a nightmare that I had recently,has inspired me to write my newest tale.

    • That’s very interesting that you’re working on something that was inspired by a nightmare. If only we could have book material in our dreams all the time, am I right?

  2. Jessica Klassen on

    Love the article on turning hesitation into inspiration, wow can I relate!
    What is with the invisible force field that surrounds our goals and keeps us away? Are we just scared of living up to our own dreams?

  3. Sophie Paolino on

    Sophie Paolino
    I get up at 5:30 a.m. So, I am in good company. I also like to write in the morning. I don’t believe in
    inspiration. Writing is a hard job of getting the right word at the right time and make sense to others
    as well as to yourself.

  4. I write a bit for our local AARP chapter’s newsletter. So far my writing consists of expounding on our choral group’s performance, and that of our invited entertainers. The search for interesting copy each month is a constant.
    Louise Brown

  5. I am usually at my best pre dawn to early morning given no distractions. The sun seems ignite creativity and inspiration for me; so I try to find a quiet place with a window to see the darkness fade into a sunny blue sky hopefully; but I am able to work under the sound of the rain if well rested.

  6. Thank you for this post. I always find this subject to be very interesting.

    In fact, I recently just finished reading Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book, “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.” In this book he talks a lot about this idea of “only four hours of creative power,” and although most people will say that early morning is the best time to write for them, what I’ve found is it not so much about time as it is the environment you have to work in.

    I mean, think about it… it could be the perfect time to write regardless of the time of day (less distractions, etc.), but if your environment is not conducive to producing heighten levels of creativity and inspiration then time is really that much more against you then it for you.

    You see, this is an angle on this topic that I don’t hear many people talking about, but let me also say this: Correct me if I’m wrong… but I tend to believe that if most writers are like me, we tend to spend a lot of time in our heads.

    What I mean by that is this: As writers, our minds are constantly thinking about story ideas, dialogue, writing descriptions, crafting different scenes, and developing characters. Plus, after what I read in Dr. Pang’s book, I have found that our minds are more at work (creatively speaking) when we are a sleep.

    In fact, I heard a fellow freelance writer once say that, as writers, we are not necessarily paid for the act of writing as we are for the art of thinking and idea development. In other words, we are paid for our ideas, not necessarily for putting words on paper.

    To that end, if writing is more of a thought thing than it is a “writing” thing (putting words on paper), then are we not writing consistently throughout the day as our minds are wandering?

    Just something to think about, I suppose…

  7. Writing to me is a joy; that means what is buried inside I will express it openly. Right now my obstacle is age and health, otherwise I would have shared accumulated life long treasure. I would have started with once upon a time … the second problem publishers.

  8. After the awesome and inspiring conversation I had with my nephew this morning, this article is the cherry on the top I needed.
    Great article filled with the simplest of information to get you going towards your overall goals in this life.

  9. Deborah Mckee on

    I am a night owl I love to stay up all night interesting things come to me in the middle of the night

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