Writing In The Night

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Julie Kibler | @JulieKibler

Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation.  Darkness stirs and wakes imagination.  —The Music of the Night, Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber

I’m the worst night owl you’ll ever know. My workday is distinctly off kilter from most of the rest of the world. Unless I have an appointment or I’m traveling, I sleep from about 3 a.m. until 11 a.m. (with a brief awake time to get my daughter off to school). As the rest of the folks in my time zone prepare to eat their midday meal, I’m grabbing a light breakfast, followed quickly by lunch. As a rule, I spend my afternoon hours conducting the business of being an author. I write blog posts, answer emails, make phone calls, and spend entirely too much time on social media. I make a chauffeur run to retrieve my teenager from her activities at some point before eating a late dinner with my family.

In the evening, my husband and I relax on the sofas, the TV playing in the background. We watch a few shows together, but I’m usually paying half attention; I’m easily distracted, by texts or conversations with kids, or more social media.

These distractions, I suspect, are why my real work starts much later.

As the house begins to quiet again, so does the Internet. The dogs get one last trip outside. My daughter settles into bed. My husband follows his routine, readying his clothes for work, reading for a while. Then, little by little, the house falls asleep.

Except for me.

I’m waking up. Well, my body has been awake for hours. But my writing brain has been slumbering, sometimes peacefully, sometimes restlessly—depending on the state of my work-in-progress. And this quieting of the house serves as an alarm clock for my mind.

In the dark, in the quiet, there are no distractions. The gentle hum of the refrigerator and snoring dogs serve as a soothing soundtrack.

I open my manuscript, and if I’m paying attention, the words flow like the Milky Way through the navy depths of the sky.

Not surprisingly, the nighttime scenes I write tend to be my favorites. Even now, when I visualize Isabelle and Robert in Calling Me Home, my mind goes straight to the scenes set at dusk or at night—when they were alone, when they were simply two teenagers in love.

If technology were not such a large part of everyday life for me, or for authors in general these days, would I still be a night owl? Would I still find the hours between 11 p.m. and three a.m. the best for creating?

I suspect I’d answer yes to both questions. For like the Phantom of the Opera, my imagination stirs in the darkness, and the other worlds I occupy come into sharp focus.

When is your brain most alert? When do you get your best work done?

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

, ,

7 Responses to Writing In The Night

  1. Susie Finkbeiner February 6, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I home school my three kiddos. It wasn’t something I expected to do. It kind of just happened. But, due to that, I have to steal time throughout the day to work on my second novel. Between teaching subtraction and writing just a few more words on my manuscript, I am promoting my first novel which recently released. Someday I will look back at all of this and realize how crazy I was to think I could do it.

    In an ideal setting, I would begin my day at 10 am and write until my husband got home from work. It doesn’t always work that way. Actually, it never does. So, I give up time watching TV to do bigger chunks of writing than I’m able to do during the day.

  2. angela February 6, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I get my best work done at night, too. My ideal schedule would be to sleep from about 2:00 am – 7 am, get up to run and see a bit of the morning, and then get in a nap in the early afternoon for about an hour or two. One day…

  3. Anita February 6, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I think Julie and I may be twins!!! I am the night owl of the family and yet I do get up and take my son to HS and sometimes I work PT in a bookstore but mostly I stay up way late, nap during the day and repeat. I am very productive after 11pm and write most blog posts at night.

  4. Becky S February 6, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    I get a second burst of energy about 9:30 PM. I could stay up until 1 or 2 easily, but have to get up for work at 6:15, so that really doesn’t happen.

  5. Julie Kibler February 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    So it seems there are at least a few other night owls out there. Sometimes it feels very solitary. But whatever works, right?

    Susie, I think writing is always about stealing time–it always seems like something else OUGHT to be done. It’s a tricky balance!

  6. Julie Kibler February 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    And how do I get a cool little avatar for my comments? :)

  7. Annee February 11, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    heard so much about this book….would love to win!

Leave a Reply