Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, September 10, 2010

Staying Up all Night

I don't know what it is these days, but it seems the only way to focus and concentrate on this novel I'm editing is to stay up all night, when the house is quiet and still. Except for that man upstairs who gets up 5 x a night to visit the bathroom (he probably needs a checkup at the doctor's real soon).

And then there's the soothing sounds of the refrigerator clicking on and off. A few other random fan sounds, the wind outside, and very rarely a car goes by.

Here's what I do not hear:

  • Phone ringing
  • doors slamming
  • doorbell chiming
  • people talking inside the house
  • children playing (yelling) outside the house
  • timers going off
  • anyone telling me they're hungry
  • anyone asking me what's to eat
  • the washer and/or drier spinning around and round

This list, not to mention a few I might have missed (like dogs barking), clearly shows why I have to stay up in the wee hours to write. Unless anyone has any better ideas, here I sit. Pretty soon the family will wake up, and it will be my turn to go to sleep for a few hours.

As my husband says, "Here she comes in from the night shift, ready to go to bed."

When is your prime time for writing? And if any of you can write in the midst of chaos, please give me some how-to tips, because I just can't seem to pull it off.

60 comments:

  1. I really don't think there's anything you can do except what you're doing. It's frustrating because others don't always realize even a brief interruption shatters a perfect thought inside a gorgeous head. Yep, hub should go to the doc (good luck, if your hub's like mine, a doc is from Mars!)

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  2. have you tried going to the library? I do the night shift too but I have to be up at 9 every morning when my toddler gets up, lets just say am not a morning person.

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  3. I'm kind of partial to the up-all-night-marathon type of writing too. Have you tried an iPod or MP3?

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  4. Yep, I am surviving off about 4 hours sleep/night. Between kids, dogs, kitten, phone, chores, errands, meals, husband, there is just no way to write until after 11 pm. And you hit the nail on the head with:

    anyone telling me they're hungry
    anyone asking me what's to eat

    20 times a day/night. At least.

    I write from 11 pm-3-4 am. *sigh*

    I'm with you, friend.

    Love,
    Lola

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  5. I'm so with you on needing the quiet. Fortunately, I can usually find at least a few hours of it during the day, because my brain stops functioning after about 10 p.m.

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  6. Iput on myheadset and my fav Pandora station, and I can pretty much write ANYWHERE ANYTIME...unless my children are desperate for my attention. Then, forget it...better to give in to them!

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  7. I go through phases where I can write amid the noise (no choice!) but at the moment I need a bit more peace...so I find myself going to bed early and working there with my notebooks...I'm in a "can only do one thing" at a time mode! If I work through the night I really really suffer during the day...but I do think late night and early morning are special times for writing. Sorry I have no template Karen? Take it one day at a time!

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  8. The quiet of the night really is the most opportune time to do it. For me, for some reason, ideas flood my head right when I am supposed to be shutting down for sleep. Not having kids, though, I do have all weekend to devote, so I can't complain. Rest up!! Happy Editing!

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  9. I'm the same, Karen. When the house is quiet. That's when I write best. I am fortunate to have a job where I can take a chunk of time to write, on most days. Otherwise, in the still hours of the darkness is when inspiration comes.

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  10. I am definitely a night owl and stay up into the wee small hours writing. I think it's more to do with when I feel most awake than that I write better when it's quieter and there are fewer distractions and demands on my time. However, when everyone else is asleep, apart from the odd owl or fox out back, it does feel like a magical time to be the only one sitting there, tapping away on a keyboard.

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  11. if you can write with music, that might help.

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  12. I write with music playing and sometimes the TV, too. As long as no one bugs me, I'm okay to write.

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  13. Yes, when the kids are at school and the house is quiet, but that means I take a day off as well.

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  14. I am so with you on needing absolute quiet to write. I'm very very lucky. Hubs goes to work and I'm home alone with the dog. I live in a quiet cul de sac, so only dogs barking disturb the quiet. So what's my excuse for not writing? I don't have one except something called life.
    karen

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  15. It's interesting to hear how others write. Thanks for all your input! Fortunately I can sleep late and take naps since I work at home and the kids are older.

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  16. Lately I seem to like mid-afternoon. Morning is too hectic, and I am definitely not a night owl!

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  17. Oh I cannot write when it is noisy - so sorry I can't help you there! I need absolute and complete and utter silence. I don't mind trees rustling, birds singing, cat meowing. Otherwise, silence please!

    Good luck with your edits!

    take care
    x

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  18. Ok so I don't write (and neither does my husband) but we do study. He used to be the guy who could only study when it was dead silent, and even then he had earplugs in. Now he studies in the hospital cafeteria. There is food access, they never close, and nobody knows him. A bonus is no cell phone signal so no annoying texts or calls. I have always prefered the car. I park in the sun, listen to music, and don't have to pack my stuff to use the bathroom. Nobody complains when I eat or drink, and there is no internet or games to distract me.

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  19. Hi Karen,
    I agree with the night writer's. BUT I can't keep from taking cat naps. How do you stay awake? Then I'm so busy fighting snoozing that I can't concentrate at all. ????
    Manzanita

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  20. I guess this is one time when being single is a bonus. I do go to the library or bookstore, just to get away from the refrigerator sometimes.

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  21. Melissa, "to get away from the refrigerator" LOL. Yeah that fan going on and off can be distracting, oh wait, you were referring to the FOOD inside?

    Manzanita, When I'm sleepy, I just go to bed. Writing session over. During the day, if I'm sleepy, I'll nap. Even when my kids were little, I'd nap on the couch, half-listening to them.

    Plain Jane, Omigosh the hospital cafeteria!! I've never thought of that! And no internet access to distract me. That might be a daytime option. I've also tried hotel lobbies, but I feel kinda like a homeless lounger, even tho I dress business like and try to look like I belong there.

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  22. Years ago I did manage to write in chaos, but I don't think I could do it now. And gratefully I don't have to. My life with Jen is really calm and quiet.
    Ann

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  23. p.s. I don't think I ever told you I really like your new templates colors!

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  24. Wow--how can you write at night? I wish I could but I am blessed to have a quiet home alone all day to write.

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  25. I'd love to do that! But unfortuantely I'd hear from husband "When are you coming to bed? I can't sleep when you're not there." Oh well!

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  26. I write when the kids are at school. I tried the night thing, but I kept falling asleep. =)

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  27. I can't stay awake late. I'm better in the day, but I know that lots of writers work like you do. I'd make more mistakes at night, but then I only have cats and hubby usually around.

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  28. good for you! i wouldn't be able to pull that off for too long (though i have been known to do it). my kids are still small and they need mama to see that they get off to school alright.

    my best time for writing is noon - 3. don't know why - it just works.

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  29. OMG I have the exact same problem! I go in to work on Saturdays sometimes to get some writing done in the quiet.

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  30. My only distraction is my dogs constantly putting their heads on the keyboard saying, "Please it's or turn." Almost the same :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  31. First thing in the morning is best for me. And I think being happily child-free helps too :-)

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  32. Hi Karen, I'm no writer, but I know what you mean about the peace and quiet in the house at night.
    Most of the time, I can't hear myself think, for the same reasons as you (well, minus the "what's to eat" one- nobody asks that here, I'm doing soething wrong and I don't know what it is!).
    I do my best work in the peace and quiet of the night shift.
    You go for it! I'd say your writing is awesome.

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  33. I have no choice but to stay up late to get my writing done. I used to be able to write some during the day, when my son napped. Now that I have two sons who hardly ever sleep at the same time except for at night, I'm stuck.

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  34. I am SO not a night person. I work best in the morning! But I don't have any distractions, so I'm lucky that way.

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  35. Surprisingly, though I am NOT a morning person, it's my most creative time. I get a lot done in the a.m.

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  36. I write in the morning but really when I'm deep into my practice I can write most times and I do not care what is happening around me. I can't write at night - too creepy somehow. weird but.

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  37. Jan, I understand about the creepy part. All my doors have to be locked and the curtains closed. Still, whenever I hear my husband get up to go to the bathroom I jump and want to hide.

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  38. I've been trying to get to the library a couple of times a week. It's where I can concentrate the best. I'm definitely a day writer though. My brain is useless after 8:00pm.

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  39. I wish I could stay up late. I get too tired and usually go to bed around 10. My good time is early mid morning. I'm so glad my baby naps!

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  40. Night is my prime time, too. Fortunately the kiddos still go to bed early, so I can get in a couple of hours without staying up too late.

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  41. I used to be a "night writer", but age has caught up with me. If I stay up past 1:30am, I feel hungover the next day even if I get in 8 hours of sleep. Right now, I love to write in the mornings when the house is quiet and my brain is fueled by the caffeine! However, tonight I will be joining you. I taught today and won't be sitting down to write until the hubster goes to bed at 11pm. I'm going to be practically pushing him in there! Is that bad? I'll make it seem like it's for his own good health!

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  42. I like the picture of you writing without interruptions. Even better, you're sleeping when people are wandering around, feeling hunger pangs and wondering what to eat.

    I've only written late if my manuscript has gotten incorporated into my dream and I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea I don't want to forget. You're right, it's quiet and distraction-free.

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  43. omg I cannot write in chaos. That's why lately school days have been filled w/me writing--everything's neglected. :D I wish I could write at night, but I get sooo tired... ;p

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  44. I tend to vary between early morning (that's usually my blog time) and late at night (book time). Always a juggling act.

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  45. I can't concentrate when everyone is home so I wait till they're all at school or work. I know some people who take their AlpaSmart or laptop away from the chaos for an hour or two. I think I might like to try that. :)

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  46. I prefer to write in the morning - unfortuately I'm a teacher so that only works in the summer. I can write pretty much any time though :)

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  47. No, I haven't mastered it either. When I'm in a writing binge, I stay up really late. I can't quite afford all night, though, because I still have toddlers. :)

    Amy

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  48. I can't do the night thing. My husband can hear the whirr of a laptop and the tapping of a keyboard from ten rooms away and under thirteen blankets. My best time is the early morning or the evenings. But that's only in the holidays. Like Jemi Fraser, it's the teaching that gets in the way, big-time.

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  49. Found you through Alex. I enjoyed your post and will return often.

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  50. Karen-this would be why I do most of my writing in the bathtub. It is the ONE PLACE they all understand that 'NO, I am NOT HELPING YOU NOW" (though hubby has been known to come demand help on math homework, or insist on having a conversation (the nerve!) I am working hard on making my home a miserable place to be so everyone would rather be elsewhere *shifty*

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  51. Yeah, I used to really recent the interruptions. Oddly, I now find it forces me to take a breather and come back to the page with fresher eyes. Some of my best writing has come after an interruption.

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  52. LOL. I write in the midst of chaos. For me, its easier to tune out ALL the noise than just a few in the quiet.

    But I know what you mean about night writing. I'm up usually pretty late (or early) too, but unlike you, I still have to drag my tired brain to work in the morning.

    I live for my one day a week off.

    ......dhole

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  53. I like writing in the morning, because that's the one time of day that the coffeehouses aren't crowded. I can usually write in a noisy cafe, but when I'm at home it's different because I become very aware of what my neighbors are doing. Which is probably why I would trip any of them if I came across them in the street.

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  54. How do you stay awake though? I set my alarm and get up early to write instead as I'm usually asleep by 9.30 pm!

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  55. I've been staying up all night regularly for the last several weeks too. It's the only time I get a quiet few hours to concentrate.

    Jai

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  56. Jai, glad I'm not the only one!

    DJ, Well, I don't do it all the time or I'd be in trouble. And some nights I will go to bed super early, then wake up at midnight to write for 3 hours.

    Neurotic Workaholic, You are so funny!

    Donna, You are so lucky to be able to write in the midst of chaos.

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  57. Hey, Karen! Posting an award for you over on my blog later this morning. Thanks for visiting during your awesome BBQ! For me, I have to wait until kids are off to school and the house is empty and quiet (I'm a freelancer, so I work from home). On the weekends, sometimes I literally kick the boys out of the house - "GUYS! I'm trying to WRITE! Go outside! At least an HOUR!!!" :D

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