Today I have a guest post from the wonderful Caitlan, otherwise known as CL McCollum. This post is also featured in the Novelista Journal which you can get for FREE if you're signed up to the Novelista Collective! Take it away Caitlan;
One of the trickiest tasks as a writer with a full time day job is finding time to actually write when a minimum of 8-10 hours (including commute) are lost to the day job itself. Add in that the recommended amount of sleep per day is 7-9 hours, and you’ve already lost anywhere from 15-19 hours of the mere 24 we’re allotted with each day right off the bat. Add in other necessary tasks like eating, bathroom tasks (including actually going to the bathroom, showering, teeth cleaning, hair, etc.), cleaning anything from dishes to the floor to laundry, feeding other people/children/pets, and oh yeah, actually spending time conversing with said people and/or pets, and the rest of the hours in the day can fill up oh so quickly.
So where do we carve out extra time from those busy hours to write?
I’m starting to think it’s just as important to focus on when we’re writing, too.
For me, after considerable trial and error, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to do my best to write as much as I can during my mornings.
Now, before I get any further, let me make something very, very clear: I do not enjoy waking up early. At all. It’s not that I’m a night owl like some of my other writer friends; we’re consistently shocked when I actually manage to stay up past midnight when we get together for writing/editing nights. It’s more that I just really, really, enjoy sleep. So, so much. Naps are among my list of Top Ten Favorite Things, along with cuddling my newly minted fiancé, grilled cheese sandwiches, curling up with a book and nothing else to do that day, and my idiot mutts resting their heads on my knee or rolling over for belly scritches.
Seriously, I really love my extra sleep, y’all.
So voluntarily getting up early in the morning has never sounded like a thing I want to do, even for my writing career. Besides, if I’m that cranky about being awake, surely the words are going to suck anyway right?
Only not so much. For one, I’m never near as cranky as I expect to be once I actually get my happy butt out of bed. I’m usually pretty awake and aware once I’m vertical. As long as I don’t let myself lay back down, I do pretty OK.
And my writing? It’s insane. I haven’t figured out yet if it’s because I’m just really that awake in the mornings or if it’s that my mind is still half asleep in a sort of dream state, but I write easily twice as fast in the morning as I do in the evenings. That’s not an exaggeration either: in the evenings I struggle to get 1,000 words in less than an hour. Some nights it can take more like two or three hours to reach that word count, and it feels like I’m fighting to force out every single word in that time.
In the morning? I’ve on multiple occasions broken 1k in less than half an hour. Less. Than. 30. Minutes.
That’s a huge increase in speed – the kind of increase that could mean the difference between winning NaNoWriMo and spending all year trying to finish a book. And it’s just from changing the time when I write.
Now is it easy to do? Hell no. But setting my alarm half an hour earlier seems like a fair trade for that many words. And as a plus, finding a bare 30 minutes at the start of my busy day feels far less intimidating than setting aside an entire hour, especially in the evenings when I’m already exhausted after the day job.
So when do you think your most productive writing time is? It might feel weird, but I’d definitely suggest trying to write at different times to see. You might be surprised by what you discover!
C. L. McCollum spends her time delving into the wonder of the world. She’s always been drawn to the “How” and the “Why” and the “Is this even possible?” While her debut novel is on the road to publication, C. L. currently co-edits and contributes to a self-published charity anthology series known as “Clichés for a Cause” and is also a founding member of the Herding Cats Press #MimosaThursday writerly podcasts. Currently, C. L. is keeping it weird in Austin, TX with the love of her life and their various furry roommates.
You can find her at home at www.clmccollum.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CLMCCOLLUMAUTHOR, and in the Twitter verse at https://twitter.com/C_L_McCollum. You can find her stories on her Amazon Author page http://www.amazon.com/C.L.-McCollum/e/B00OM24UUS/