Writing in the dark.

Writing after 2am is becoming a bit of a bad habit. Which brings me to the topic of my next post.

My weird body clock, and my body’s insistence that I be wide-freaking-awake at 2am, even when I have to get up at 6am, and even when I am completely knackered, has been thwarting my good intentions since ’98. Poor sleep hygiene, as I would call it, set in at that time due to the harsh and varied medical treatments that my body was subjected to, was compounded by depression, and cemented by habitual behaviour over time.

I know how it affected my studies and work back in the day (when the day is 9 to 5, but your body is open for business from 10 – 6  and then 12 to 2, things go awry). So recently I’ve been pondering: is this my achilles heel? Is poor sleep discipline the one thing (as if there could only be one thing) that could jeopardise my future writing career aspirations?

I went in search of answers… on the internet, of course (it’s 3am, after all). And I found the following:

  • Gustave Flaubert was a nocturnal writer. He would awake at 10am and announce the event with his bell cord (grandiose!). In 1852, he told the lady poet Louise Colet that he worked from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m (seems an odd pick-up line).
  • The prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates works from 8-1, then for 2 to 3 hours at night: “I can work from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Alone, I don’t sleep that well.” Indeed.
  • And financial writer Michael Lewis gets it all done very early in the morning and very late at night. If he gets anything done during the day, it is editing what he has written in the dark.

Perhaps being a night owl wont be as big a handicap as I feared.


Interviewer: Do you ever do summer beach reading?

Joyce Carol Oates: I’d rather take poison, I’d rather chew ground glass.


2 Comments on “Writing in the dark.”

  1. Denise Hadley says:

    the late night/early morning hours are sometimes the most productive for the creative muse…probably because we relax…it’s quiet and there are no distractions or noise of the busy days. if society were structured in such a way that individuals could work or create at their optimal time, then this would not be such a source of frustration or inconvenience. My best ideas frequently arrive late at night

    • pjvetuna says:

      Indeed, Denise. In my utopian dream society, we would all be working at the time that suits us best, in the profession that utilises our unique abilities in the best way to serve the highest purpose.

      And I’d be allowed to take a short siesta in the middle of the day 🙂

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