When Do You Write?

Sunrise on the dog walk
I wake up early, early enough to see the sunrise every morning—some days too early. If I had my way, that’s when I’d be writing—first thing in the morning, a cup of coffee nearby.
When our children were young, MEH (My Engineer Husband) was chief dog walker: he’d head out every morning to take Sadie then Bo then Abby to run free in a nearby open space. And me? That was my writing time. Before our two kids woke up, all was silent and still, and I wrote.

These days, when I’ve “gone writin’,” I still wake up thinking about my work, my writing: my first thought of the day. But nowadays I’m by MEH’s side, taking Abby to Dog Woods Park. When I come home, a little after sunrise, I write.

When is your preferred writing time?



  1. Julia, like you, I am a morning person. But although you get up early enough to see the sunrise every day, I’m up at 2 a.m., 3 a.m., or 4 a.m. to write — the time of day when the house is quiet and there’s nothing else to do but sleep. I guess, while this is technically early morning writing, this makes me a night writer. I actually wrote a blog post about this for our friend Terri Long: http://www.tglong.com/blog/2011/06/night-writer/ Have a great day!

  2. I’m most comfortable writing around 3-5pm (I know, specific). This is, of course, when I’m currently working my pay-the-bills job. 😉 So generally, I just write whenever I do, and sometimes that’s first thing in the morning, sometimes that’s until 2am, it changes as quickly as anything!


  3. Liz says:

    “When the girls aren’t around” is probably the best answer I can come up with. 🙂

  4. Erika Marks says:

    Before the girls were in school, I wrote mostly at night–and I still do on the days they’re home or when I’m under deadline or just really rolling on a WIP.

    I think the key for me is to snatch moments when and where I can. Even if it’s ten minutes I can make the most of those ten minutes, and sometimes I get more usable material out of ten minutes than two full hours!

  5. I would love to start writing at 3am everyday and wrap it up by noon. I do that often actually, it’s just not conducive to “normal people life”. I think it’s great you get a little family time in before writing. It’s nice he gets up that early!..although I suppose he’s going to work..

  6. Ann says:

    I am not a morning person, but when I do wake up early and get my day started I feel SUPER productive! I find that cooking in the evening and blogging at night works for me….

    I read and comment to blogs any time I can!

    A lot of time, I find that working between 11pm and 2am works best for me…everyone is asleep and I have no interruptions!

  7. I like to write in the morning. Anytime before I eat lunch is good. Sometimes that’s 5am, sometimes it’s more like 9:30. But after lunch, if I sit down, I fall asleep.

  8. Pet says:

    I write – well, my blog and staff like that only – early in the morning too, usually from before 7 or around. Then at night, from 11pm onward. Well, the trick is that I don’t seem to need to sleep too much, 5-6 hours keeps my mind in perfect shape 🙂

  9. Lately I’ve been wondering this myself! I used to squeeze in writing time first thing in the morning after the kids went to school and before work got hectic. Working from home makes that relatively easy. Two hours, 8 – 10 a.m. if I was lucky. Then suddenly work got crazy and I became addicted to getting some exercise in the morning, which helps with concentration but kills the time. Also leaves me kind of tired in the evenings. I’m floundering a bit now. Any suggestions?

  10. JM Merchant says:

    I tend to be a night owl, perhaps due to the sort of jobs I usually do. When I was at school and uni I never used to be able to start my homework before 10-11pm, and then used to work through the night sometimes. This habit seems to have passed over to my writing.

  11. leahsthoughts says:

    I’m a night owl. So I always get inspired and end up writing at night. Usually after everyone goes to sleep. I like the idea of waking up early to write. But I just don’t think I’m that motivated. I have more energy (even for things like exercising) later in the day.

  12. I write in the morning. Get up at 5am, make tea, sit down an write. Later in the day I can think of too many excuses not to do it. Then the days slip by, and before I know it I haven’t written in a week. Not good. Plus, I am just too muzzy headed after work.

  13. What’s funny is that my writing times have changed between my last book and my current WIP. For my last book, waking up around 5:30 or 6 worked best for me. I’d get the writing in before the day started.

    For this book, I’ve just been too tired and overwhelmed to get up that early, and I’ve found a good time is actually in the late afternoons and sometimes in the evening. It’s funny…just when I thought I had a routine I go and change it.

  14. Dina, I’m so curious about the late night writing — does that mean you stay up for the day? I sometimes get up as early as 4 when I just can’t sleep anymore, but I don’t know if I could do the 2 a.m. time, but of course I know how it can be with kids at home to carve out that time, so it seems like a good solution!

    Ashlee, That’s really helpful that you can write at any time. The only time I can do that is when I’m really really into something I’m writing — like today! It makes it more possible for me to write at any time. Interesting that your writing time peaks at such a specific time!

    Liz, Of course, I can well imagine that when the girls aren’t around is probably your most productive writing time (they’re so entertaining that I’m sure they would constantly distract me — such fun!) 🙂

    Erika, That is so interesting that you are able to write in the whatever time you have available. That’s really hard for me, but I think when my kids were little, I probably was more used to interrupted time! As you say, when you’re rolling on the WIP, it could be anytime; same here!

    Sara, Wow, 3 a.m. — you and Dina are the super early birds. It’s a good quiet time to write, I’m sure! Although it would be easier for me to write immediately when I get up, I love the early morning walks with MEH and the dog — they are so refreshing and really fun, too. (Yes, MEH goes to work shortly after the dog walk & of course more coffee!)

    Ann, 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. — I would literally be asleep on the couch next to you as you wrote, so I wouldn’t be too distracting! I would love to be at your house when your baking at that time, though — YUM!!

    sharyhover, I know exactly what you mean about lunch — that mid-day meal/slow down really does me in, too. When my kids were in school, I’d have a late lunch, and it would be a time I’d sit down and relax just before they’d get home. It’s a low-energy time of day for me too! Thanks so much for your comment and your visit to my blog — nice to meet you!

  15. Pet, You’re so lucky that you only need 5-6 hours of sleep. I can do that for about six days in a row then I zonk out at about 8 the next night! You sound like you are a very energetic person! 🙂

    Sharon, I agree, working from home does make fitting writing in a lot easier — but it also makes it harder for me to get motivated sometimes (I think because it’s always staring me in the face!). I also used to go to the gym first thing in the morning (now I walk later in the day), so I know exactly what you mean — it also used to leave me more tired and with less available time. It really helped me to blog every single day–which energized all my writing. I did it every day at the same time so that it got to be habit. For me, just setting the time and sticking to it really helps — maybe that would help you, too? Even if it’s just an hour (which is what I started with), it made a huge difference to know that’s what that hour was for. Period. Not sure if that will help… I hope so! Good luck, I’m just entering a time when writing is a lot easier for me after several months, so I know how hard it can be!

  16. Jo, I know others who are able to work late at night, and I’m so envious! By the time it gets dark, I’m pretty worthless at thinking about anything but watching a movie or reading. You’re very lucky!

    Leah, You’re lucky too, just like Jo. I’m a night owl for movies and reading but I can’t write at night! I guess that makes me a Lark to your night owl! Those rhythms of life, the variations in energy level, are so interesting to me!

    Cynthia, Another Lark! I know what you mean about excuses, that is my problem too with many things including writing…. if I don’t do it early then I may not get around to it as promptly. And just like you, I get muzzy headed (what a great expression!).

    Natalia, That is fascinating that your writing schedule has changed with the new book — do you think it’s something about the new book (different genre or mood?) or that you have a lot of other stuff to do or on your mind? Again, these energy levels and how we’re all so different is so interesting! Maybe a changed routine is good — after all variety is the spice of life! 🙂

  17. Nancy Kelley says:

    I am a night owl by nature. However, one of my frustrations with the day job is that I’m too tired to write when I get home, at least on my later days. I’ve had to adjust to that. Now, I write from 8-10 am on Monday and Tuesday, from 7-10 pm W-F, and all day Saturday. I often sneak extra time in on Monday and Tuesday evening, but it’s never as productive.

    In my perfect world, I’d get up at 9 and spend the morning reading and doing chores or errands. Then, after lunch I’d sit down to write. Maybe I’d watch tv or a movie after dinner, and follow that up with another two hours of writing before going to bed around 12. Someday…

  18. Aisha says:

    Since Waleed naps two hours, when I’m in a writing zone, I write then. Its the quietest msot peaceful time. Right now I’m waiting for feedback from my agent on my latest manuscript- so instead I do yoga to calm my frazzled nerves, lol. But- I wish I could wake in the morning so I could write- I find that time the most soothing- almost as if you’re stealing extra hours from the day.

  19. Nancy, Another night owl! I can see how you’d be frustrated about being too tired to write when you get home! You are such a great role model for all writers — you are disciplined and work when you say you’re going to. Impressive. I know what you mean, though, about perfect world vs. reality. I wish I *could* sleep late. My perfect world would entail an occasional sleep in past 5:30!

    Aisha, I remember those nap times — they are so precious especially knowing that your baby is safe and sound and the time is limited. I cannot imagine being in the position of waiting for feedback from an agent — cross my fingers I will someday — exciting! but I think yoga sounds like a great plan for keeping frazzled nerves in check!

  20. Lisa Carter says:

    Interesting split in the comments between morning people, night owls and those who write when they can!

    I’m a morning person. I have to start my day off focused on work, whether that be my own writing projects or my novel translation. Sometimes when I can’t, though, I make a point of trying to work later in the day. I’m not much good after 7 pm, though. My brain shorts out and that’s that!

    Here in Costa Rica, the birds start cheeping, screeching, cock-a-doodle-doing at about 4 a.m. I’m therefore up by 5, and it’s a lovely time to write as the neighbors head out to work and life gets underway.

  21. Lisa, I agree — such an interesting split between morning/night/anytime writers! I was pretty surprised! You sound like me with a short-out brian after 7… I’m pretty useless, although if I’m really on a roll then nothing stops me! I forgot you were in Costa Rica! Are you in a rain forest or nearby? The sounds must be amazing; I lived in Belize as a child, so I can imagine…. Beautiful writing environ!

  22. I’m definitely a morning writer. I get up with the kids, drop them off at school, and then it’s time for writing. I used to go to the local coffee shop, but they rearranged the furniture and got rid of a lot of tables in exchange for couches. It really tripped me up because I’m a creature of habit to a flaw. But, now I just write at home and it works out alright.

  23. I’m like you, Julia, in that if I get on a roll, I keep going.

    These days, I tend to get the most done when I first sit down at the computer in the morning … probably between 9-10. I’m a night person, but for some reason, I can’t focus on fiction then. Weird!

  24. Lisa Ahn says:

    I’d love to write in the mornings, but that’s when we do our homeschooling, so I end up writing in the afternoon when I am most sleepy. I bribe myself to stay awake with tea and salty snacks. It works most of the time. Sometimes I find I’ve just deleted something because my eyes were closed when my fingers hit the keys. Not good.

  25. Jenny, Glad to see another morning writer! I loved the schedule of writing when my kids were in school (they’re in college now), but that’s too bad about the furniture being exchanged at the coffee shop — I know what you mean about being a creature of habit, me too! Thank goodness you were able to work at home instead! Nice to see you and thanks so much for the comment!

    Mahesh, Glad to meet another rolling writer! I’m here to say, the writing is rolling for me right now! (Watch for my blog on Tuesday when I’ll talk about just this!) I’m also with you on the night person thing — I’m often up ’til midnight but have a lot of trouble writing past about 7 or 8 (although not when I’m on a roll!). I agree, weird!

    Lisa, haha, the famous sleep delete — guilty as charged. I have to say, I’m with you, very very sleepy in the afternoon. I often will have a half a cup of coffee in the afternoon…. this past day I’ve booked A LOT of writing hours, and one day I woke up with my head almost ON the keyboard. YIKES, I should’ve checked for deleted words! 🙂

  26. Ann says:

    I have to write another comment…it’s funny – Leah and I are on-line at the same time a LOT!

  27. Ann, I’ve seen Leah’s comments on your posts — that she’s online when you post, which is amazing since you’re on opposite coasts! I’d be asleep on the couch 🙂

  28. CMSmith says:

    I like to write first thing in the morning with a hot cup of tea.

    Since it’s been so hot I have to use that early morning time to walk Arthur or pull weeds (or ivy as the case may be.)

    I’m looking forward to cooler days when these tasks can be done later and I can have my mornings back for writing.

  29. Christine, That sounds lovely — “first thing in the morning with a hot cup of tea.” Of course for me I’d have coffee (although there is the odd day we’re out of coffee…). I know what you mean about the hot weather and weeds, early morning is definitely the best time, so I’m with you, waiting for the cooler daytime weather!

  30. Whenever I can manage it!!! It ends up being the mid afternoon, but really I’m more of a night person. I do most of my blog posts at obscene hours (1am-ish). The WIP gets the more “normal” time.

  31. Nina, I can well imagine that writing time is at a premium for you! I envy you night people because I’m rarely able to write at night. And I’m really impressed that you can write at 1 a.m., when the best I might be able to do is an email or a blog comment (if I happened to have a rare night of insomnia 🙂

  32. I’m an early morning riser & writer. Although, despite getting up anywhere between 4-5am, I use that time for other things (making lunches, some Bible study, reading my favorite blogs)… but once my kids are off to the bus stop (7am) I hope to be able to switch gears and get busy working on my WIP. I have high hopes for completing 2nd and 3rd drafts over the next few months since both kids are finally on the same start time with school.

    I’m so glad to hear you’ve been on a roll with your WIP(s?) It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?


  33. Barb, It’s so nice to meet another super early riser! I remember those days with the kids at home — LOVED those days — but I know what you mean about putting them on the bus and having writing time…. it is a definitive switch that used to go off in my mind. I know you’ll be able to finish those 2nd and 3rd drafts! Go Barb GO! 🙂