The Time that Works Best for Creativity
Writers frequently run around saying they have certain times of day, times of year, they enjoy writing the most. As the winter fades away and record highs have taken over this week in Phoenix, Arizona I’m coming face-to-face with this very dilemma. What time of day should I make the effort to get the words out and what season do I find my best creativity comes rising to the surface?
I used to be a night owl and loved the quiet of the city after the ten o’clock hour. In my twenties I felt my best functioning hours were 10:00 – 2:00 on both sides of the clock. Staying up late meant sleeping in later in the morning and I was always most productive with creative thoughts right after I got up in the late morning. Now that I’m approaching forty I find the same thing rings true. The difference is I don’t think I could tell you the last time I saw two o’clock in the morning and now I rise at about 7:30 every morning.
With a shift in my body clock while working in corporate America I noticed the shift in my productivity hours. Even though I’m working for no one but myself these days that same body clock has held fast. Now when I write I find my most creative thoughts come at around eight o’clock in the morning and by two o’clock in the afternoon I’m toast. I’m still most productive in the morning I just approach it earlier these days. But that isn’t the only change to my schedule. Time of year also plays a big role in my writing and effectiveness with creativity.
When I lived in Boston I frequently hibernated in the winter to avoid going outdoors in the harsh cold of our northeast winters. I completed NaNoWriMo a few years in a row during November and spent December through February editing and formatting. Once I moved to Phoenix that weather pattern was no longer as grueling and I found my natural tendency was to be outdoors in the winters instead. But I struggled with giving up my summers and the fun that tends to go along with them. That is until my first summer in Phoenix.
Temperatures can hit anywhere from 100-115 here from June to August and sometimes, like this week for example, the temps can go out of control on either end of that summer season. The only thing I want to do during the summer now is to stay indoors in my air conditioned house, or be out in the pool, to remain as cool as possible. And this has sparked some creativity to bubble up. Last August I wrote Reckless Abandon, my latest Romantic Suspense and it only took me the month to get a good first draft down on paper.
I set the novella in the middle of summer and the weather played a small background role for the main character, Shaw, as she experienced the different kind of heat that New York City has to offer in the summer as opposed to her dry but oven-like climate in Phoenix. The experiences of having lived in that thick and gooey kind of warmth helped me to write her reaction to it with more honesty. And I was able to take shelter from our summer heat by using that time to my best advantage with my work.
Now as I’m working on the sequel I’m finding my creative juices are starting to rise with the temperatures. All winter long I was empty, there was nothing particularly creative rolling around my head. However, during that time I was collecting information while out and about meeting people, doing things, exploring, and living life. As a Writer I like things loosely structured and now, knowing my best times of year to collect as well as write, it helps me stay on track to completing my next piece of fiction without it feeling forced.
As the temps heat up this spring I’m finding the next storyline for Shaw is heating up as well. Will I make the next book a scorcher? Only time will tell on that one but I can assure you I’ll be working on it first thing in the morning and spending the late afternoons in the pool.