The benefits of writing at different times of day

Painting attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: ‘Saint Paul Writing His Epistles’

Painting attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: ‘Saint Paul Writing His Epistles’

Earlier this week we talked about devotions to help you start and finish the day well, so that you can be more creative. Today is all about what time of day you spend creating, whether that means writing or painting or sketching or crocheting.

I started thinking about this when I read this post on Aerogramme Writers’ Studio in November and found it hilarious and informative.

Hilarious because Max Barry has already “made it” as a famous author, so of course he’s going to say NaNoWriMo makes you write a “bad” novel. Hello, you’re writing a novel in thirty days. It’s an AWESOME accomplishment no matter how bad it is.

Informative because Max Barry then provides a list of the various methods to get you over the finish line before November 30. I’m going to share the methods that are relevant to us no matter what you’re creating. These ones are all about what time of day you choose to create.

As for me, I blog and write my novel at different times of day depending how much editing work needs to get done first. Lots of work, I’ll work in the morning and blog or write in the late afternoon before dinner. No urgent work, I’ll blog in the morning or write and then do some work (or hunt for work) from lunch onwards.

My temp contract that was full-time January through April is now finished (phew – made it), so I’m back to writing and blogging and maybe looking for work or a new “normal” job to change my work. So I’ve given myself a week’s holiday (yay!) and that gives me the freedom to try out some of these different times of day for creating…


Two of Max Barry’s methods:

  1. The Break of Dawn

When: The second you wake up, you pick up your notebook or sketchpad, or turn to your easel or computer, and you start creating.


  • If you’re a morning person, your mind is at its clearest and most creative. You’re not distracted yet by the concerns of the day.
  • If you can keep writing/painting past your normal breakfast time, a dizziness develops that can be startlingly stimulating. Add coffee for extra buzz. (Not too much – don’t give yourself an ulcer guzzling caffeine on an empty stomach.)

Why not:

  • If you’re a night owl, you probably hate that he even suggested this idea.
  • Even if you’re a morning person, you might have such a fiercesome metabolism that, like me, you need to wake up, eat eat eat, and then turn on the computer.
  • If you start work at 6 am or even get on the bike at 4 am like some real people I know, then this method is kind of impossible. (I swear I just heard one of those amazing people say, “Challenge accepted!”)


Image source: Finding the Grace Within by Karen Beth

Image source: Finding the Grace Within by Karen Beth

  1. The Dead of Night

When: At night, after everyone else has started snoring.


  • It feels cool, like you’re in a secret world of your own.
  • The temperature is literally cooler (this will definitely appeal if you live in the tropics, like me). It’s quiet. There are no distractions. No one’s going to make you work or exercise or cook or clean at midnight; you are free to focus on creating. You probably feel calmer now that the day is over, and so your brain can turn creative.

Why not:

  • If you live up north, it’s cold at night!
  • Only a night owl can do this. (Are you still awake? I’m not. I’m one of the ones snoring while you’re creating.) You can only write for so long before your brain becomes mush and the words that started so poignantly are starting to sound a big garbled and turning into shmurghafurnurgen. You can only paint for so long before your hand starts making sloppy mistakes, hitting the canvas with the wrong part of the brush.
  • Even for night owls, if you worked all day then you need sleep, dude. You would need the lifestyle of rising late and sleeping late to accommodate this method.
  • Creepy sounds at night might be distracting, especially if you’re writing a crime novel or painting a wolf. Was that creaking floorboard a robber coming to get you?


A method of my own:

‘Away From His Desk’ by Karin Jurick

‘Away From His Desk’ by Karin Jurick

  1. The Lunch Break

When: On your lunch break at work. (Writing might seem easier, but drawing or watercolours is almost as easy. Just bring one of those teeny tiny travel watercolour sets with you in a pencil case, and an A5 sketchpad.)


  • Your brain will enjoy being creative as a mental break from the hard work stuff.
  • Even if you have to go home and cook and clean for your family, you make you’re getting to create a little bit every day. After all, J.K. Rowling famously began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone during her lunch hours while working as a researcher and secretary for Amnesty International.

Why not:

  • Can you eat and write/draw at the same time without making a mess? I can’t…
  • Your brain might be mush from slogging away at the hard work stuff.
  • It’s harder to believe that you are “the creative type” when you’ve just spent hours working at being an “insert the occupation of your choice here”.


When is your favourite time of day to create?

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2015. Re-blogging is always highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

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