The best time of day to write
I’m not a fan of the one-size-fits-all approach. When I see blanket advice, I involuntarily shudder. Much like I convulse uncontrollably when clothes are marked as one size, when in reality the label should read: “Fits like a blanket.”
That’s why I’m not going to tell you the best time of day to write. Because I don’t believe there is one, contrary to lots of advice floating around on the interwebs out there.
Stick around and see what I think you should do instead. (It doesn’t involve blindly following Morning Pages or the Miracle Morning or journaling your dreams before you get out of bed…)
In an effort to get better and more consistent at writing, you’ve probably tried to establish some semblance of a routine.
You’ve stalked the aforementioned interwebs and discovered that some of the best writers get up before the sun and write for three hours. So, even though you’re not a morning person until you’ve had your Bulletproof coffee or your matcha latte or whatever gets you going, you drag your ass out of bed at 3:30 a.m. and sit stoically at your computer, willing the genius to flow out of your brain and onto the page.
Maybe you’ve read that some writers go on work vacations. They’ll stay in a fancy hotel or a fab Airbnb and just write for days. (These are the ones you see on social media with their laptops and elaborate breakfast spread on the balcony overlooking the ocean where everything looks magical.) So you book a weekend at a bed and breakfast, only to be distracted by the nightly wine tasting and the room’s HBO.
Or maybe you carry a little spiral bound notebook around with you everywhere because all the best writers know that inspiration can strike at any moment. You’ve seen those creative geniuses scribbling away on a park bench despite the fact that it’s raining and about 40 degrees and they’re not wearing a rain jacket or carrying an umbrella. They’re in the throes of creation, and they're committed. So of course you get a cute little Moleskine and a very professional-looking pen and tote it around. Except you forget it’s there because you’re conditioned to sit in front of the computer and struggle to write at 8 a.m.
These approaches might work for those writers, but trying to steal someone else’s routine and process is pretty useless if it doesn’t align with your style and personality.
You can’t force creativity.
And by shoving yourself into a box and declaring that you do all your writing before the sun rises (even though you’re not quite awake yet and you don’t ACTUALLY have much to show for your time and effort) you’re not being as productive as you could be.
While it can be fun to do like the pros do and feel super cool batching your content every Monday morning, rain or shine, if it’s not serving you, what’s the point? You’re actually wasting time and brain power trying to make yourself do something when your brain just really isn’t primed for it.
Here’s what you’re gonna do instead.
Don’t be a lemming.
Things never end well for the lemmings. Don’t look over the edge because most of them are splattered on the rocks below. Poor, sweet creatures.
It can be totally helpful to see what works for other people and to try it out to see if it works for you. Give it a go, sure. But if you’ve been sticking to the same routine for a few weeks and things aren’t improving…it might be time to chuck that routine along with those rotten apples, my friend.
I mean, would you keep on making homemade almond milk like everyone else even if you’re allergic to nuts?
No. No, I don’t think you would.
So it doesn’t make sense then to keep on writing at that busy coffee shop even though you look up every time someone walks in the door and you’ve only written about 100 words two hours later, right?
Break free of the routine.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a rut? (I mean, who hasn’t?!?)
Sometimes we’re so set in our ways and so afraid to step out of our comfort zones that we stay right where we’re comfy cozy EVEN IF it’s no longer serving us. Maybe you’ve scheduled your weekly blog post creation on your calendar and every Tuesday between 10 and 12, you dutifully write your content. But maybe you’ve started to notice that your writing has gotten a little like an overripe avocado on a two-week-old piece of gluten-free toast: a little stale, a little dry, a little boring. And it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
What if you do the unthinkable and break free of that routine? Instead of sitting there banging your head against the keyboard when you aren’t feeling particularly blog-y, why not move on to something else?
I’m willing to bet a little disruption in your schedule makes you more productive and more creative.
Find a time that works for you.
If you Google the best time of day to write, you’re quickly going to get lost in tons of articles and advice about the scientifically proven time for creative thinking and why you should be writing in the morning and why you should be writing at night and why you SHOULD do allllllll these other things.
Fuck the shoulds.
Ask yourself if you’re actually writing when you sit down at the computer first thing in the morning or if you’re distracted by all those emails in your inbox. Are you really concentrating in the evening when you’re sitting on the couch trying to write and your family is flipping channels, arguing between Chopped and the newest iteration of Double Dare? Is it taking you too long to write a blog post?
You might be trying to write at the wrong time.
So then what IS the right time?
The right time is when you feel creative and productive. When you can sit down and knock out a blog post before you even realize you’ve written 1,000 words. When you feel inspired.
And that time can change from week to week, from month to month. Instead of forcing yourself to slog through content creation at a certain time and fall behind because you’re not feeling it, do yourself a favor and create when you ARE feeling it.
You might not be doing what everyone else is doing. You might not have a set routine. You might not even have set writing times.
But you’re still going to get your writing done. And it’s going be more enjoyable.
Think back to the last couple of weeks. Did writing feel like a chore? Were you forcing yourself to park your ass in front of the computer at a certain time? And did you slink away, tail between your legs, feeling defeated because you didn’t conquer your content?
Be really honest with yourself and decide if the time you’ve currently got set aside to write is working for you. If not and you’re ready to finally find the best time for YOU to write, stop doing what you were doing right now. And find something new.
And if that doesn’t work? Find something else new. Keep on tweaking and refining and adjusting. It might take some work and some trial and error, but you can go your own way (hello, Fleetwood Mac reference) and be better off for it.
Also, this: If you’re not into the one-size-fits-all approach and you’re buzzing because I told you to fuck the shoulds, I invite you to check out 10 Days to Better Than Okay Copy. This free email series helps you break free from the shoulds and find a way of writing that works for you. Sign up and break free here.