Monday, June 28, 2010

Alarm Clocks are the Tools of Satan

When do you write? What's your golden hour? If you were the boss of this world, when would you fire up the laptop and put the do-not-disturb sign on the doorknob?

For me, it would be when the house got quiet, at 10 p.m. or so. I do my best writing at the end of a day, when I've had that day to ponder on my WIP, my characters, the plot. It settles somehow, and the important stuff rises to the top.

Unfortunately, I do not live in an Owl World. I live in a Lark World, and I happen to be married to a Lark. If I ever achieve World Domination, one of the things on my to-do list would be to make sure that all those early-morning birds had to stay up past midnight and be happy about it.

I've never been a cheerful riser in the mornings. Like The Kiddo, I grump and I growl unless I can wake on my own -- and that is when the sun hits my face. An alarm clock? That's just another name for a diabolical tool of Satan.

But after living four decades in a world run strictly by Larks, and especially after the 10 years of public school that The Kiddo has been subject to, my internal body clock is completely screwed up.

At ten p.m., my brain is raring to go, but my poor body is pushed beyond its limit. I marvel at the way I used to routinely pull all-nighters when I was in college two decades ago -- not because I procrastinated, but because I worked three jobs and took course overloads. There is absolutely no way I could pull an all-nighter now.

At 6:30 the next morning, my eyes pop open, and my body is miserably awake. My brain? It won't REALLY kick in until nearly another four hours.

Now I tell you, what good is being awake if your brain is not engaged?

I've known early morning writers -- lots of writers swear by that early morning time. I've tried it. It frustrates me, though, because if I start writing early in the morning, I make grr noises at the dayjob. I want to stay at my keyboard all day long -- or at least until lunch.

But if I sit down at the keyboard at 10 p.m., I can get so much done in a couple of hours, then crash and go to bed and not resent the call of the Sandman. In an ideal world, the next morning, when the sun wakes me up, I lie in bed and think about what I wrote the night before and start working out the next chapter.

In the real world? I crack open a bleary eye, realize it's 6:45 and I've hit the snooze button twice, and roll out of bed. And by ten AM? I'm dusting off those Plans for Achieving World Domination so that I can turn the world into an Owl refuge.


Piedmont Writer said...

My mother was a lark for EVER and I hated her for it. Not only was she up at the crack of dawn, if she was, we were too. No rest for the wicked teenagers.

Now I'm older, I find I'm up before 5 am every day, no matter what time I go to bed. It's nice in a way, but sleep is too. I'm glad I'm able to take naps.

Kelly Breakey said...

I am a Lark. There I said it. I love the mornings. The best is when we are up before the sun and get to watch it rise from the comfort of our boat. We have lost that luxury this season with the oil spill, but no worries I can still do it from the comfort of my back yard.

The fog rolls through the greenbelt we are snuggled up to and the birds greet me singing their merry tunes and while I think world domination is good I love the hour of the lark, when I have the world all to myself.

Anonymous said...

I really, really heart you. My mother and I are both night owls. I love the night time! The Mr. does not and he gets very grumpy with me when I don't go to bed at all, something I will do on occasion. We have had many a "discussions" over my bed times. I have to force myself to go to bed between 11 and 12, the bed time I really like is between 3 and 4.

If I could pick one thing to live without... sleep. There are so many other things I'd rather be doing than sleeping!

Summer said...

I'm neither. My prime is between 1-4pm, and that's when I do my best writing! Also, if I can stay awake, I get my second wind between 2-3am. But, staying awake usually doesn't happen...

Cynthia Reese said...

Oh, Anne, I would be SO much more productive if I could take naps!

Kelly, I'm so glad that someone is cheerful in the mornings. Can you, uh, run the world while I get my nap out??

Posey! A like-minded blogger bud! I've often thought that if I were separated from societal cues and allowed to sleep whenever I wanted, I wouldn't ever go to sleep before midnight. And I know exactly what you mean about husbands. It's something I will tell The Kiddo -- you can fall in love with anybody, so make sure your sleep cycles are compatible! (then again, if The Husband was a night owl, neither one of us might get up in the morning ...)

Oh, Summer, what a bad rap you have ... do you just require a lot of sleep, or that's just the most productive time for you?

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Oh, man, I run on the EXACT same schedule as Summer does, though I usually do end up staying awake. It is not a personally convenient schedule, that's for sure.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Being awake, but not having the energy to create? That is the MOST frustrating of all! I'm lucky that my peak productivity time by body clock (10a-2p) coincides with the time the kids are in school.

Otherwise, I doubt I would be able to write at all.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm an early morning writer--at least when there's light out in the morning. :) Winter time I tend to me LATE morning/early afternoon writer. :)

Lickety Splitter said...

I don't officially write, but I can't even blog in the morning. Even though I love being outside in early morning, I rarely get that pleasure because I prefer to hang out with the owls.

Cynthia Reese said...

Elizabeth, I sure feel for you and Summer. That particular time period is my Arsenic Hour -- I'm so tired from being up in the morning that I just want to crash.

Susan, IF I didn't like you so much, I'd be jealous. Wait a minute. I can like you and still be jealous. Yeah. I can. :-)

Jennifer, I wish I could be ... that might solve my problems!

Lickety Splitter, we owls are a hoot, aren't we? (OK, OK, I couldn't resist!)

Lydia Kang said...

OMG. The title of this post made me almost snort my hot tea.
After I wake up and shower, I'm a morning person. I'm fairly perky. At night, my body just shuts off around 11pm and I can't stay awake without feeling ill. That's me!

Tawna Fenske said...

The only times I've set an alarm in the last 4 years are when I've had to catch a flight. I've found I get up a lot earlier (and more refreshed!) than when I used to set an alarm for work and hit snooze every few minutes.

I tend to do my best writing in the evening, however.


Linda G. said...

I loathe alarm clocks too. Not so much because I mind getting up early--I'm naturally an early riser--but because I can't sleep well if I'm anticipating being jarred awake. I keep waking myself up every fifteen minutes to check the clock. Bleah.

Jamie D. said...

Larks are nice people when I run across them in the afternoon. The only problem I have is that they don't seem to believe that us owls actually can't help being owls. I've heard from many a morning person (my mother included) that "you'll get used to it, you just have to try" regarding getting up earlier. Not true. And I would never tell a Lark that they'll "get used" to staying up late...'cause odds are they wouldn't. I've had to get up at 6am for 11 years now, and I'm still not "used to it" - it sucks, every single weekday morning. LOL

My favorite writing time is 10:30pm to midnight or so...and I'm normally up until at least 12:30-1am (at which time I force myself to sleep, unless I'm reading a really good book). My husband is a night owl, but he also needs more sleep, so he goes to bed alone these days, and I hear about it on occasion. I try to go to bed's just so perfectly quiet and lovely in the wee hours of the morning... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can never wake up in the morning, and often sleep through 3 rounds of alarm clocks. However, I write better in the morning, before all the events of the day crowd my mind. I'm more of a night owl, and get a lot of things done after midnight. But I can't seem to write at that time.

Cynthia Reese said...

Lydia! A fellow hot tea drinker! Yay! I guess doctors have to be fairly perky at just about any time ... that's one reason that I decided NOT to pursue anything in the medical field.

Tawna & Linda, I, too, feel much better when I don't set an alarm. If only I could report to the dayjob at, say, noon! Yeah, that would work!

Jaimie, that's too funny! Larks are nice people -- but many do tend to be the taddest bit judgmental about us lay-a-bed Owls. I love it when they tell me, "If you'd just go to bed at a decent TIME!"

Sandy, I know the feeling ... because I put off so much until I'm actually mentally awake and functioning, getting stuff done could encroach on my writing time. And then, too, when I get up early, I have that middle of the afternoon saggy feeling that I don't have if I could juuuuust sleep for an hour later.

grace said...

I prefer to write between 1-3am. Working a 9-5 job sort of makes this impossible.

I hate being an adult.