When’s the best time to write? Is it in the morning when you’re fresh and ready for a new day? Is it in evening when you’re full of ideas and inspiration from previous hours during the day? Or perhaps it’s at night, when people are least likely to bother you, allowing you to focus on your work 100%?
Being able to write, and write creatively, isn’t something that will come to you whenever you want. But when it does, you’ll have ideas zapping in from all angles, allowing you to write at top speed, getting work done twice as fast as you would during non-optimal hours. Unfortunately, those non-optimal hours require twice as much effort, and even then, it takes that much longer to complete writing tasks.
So, what is truly the best time to think and write creatively? Luckily, there have been few studies on the subject to answer that question for us. Here’s a summary of their findings:
Writing is best done in mornings
According to a large number of sources, the best time to write is when your body clock is ready to ‘work’. If you tend to feel fresh early morning, this is a clear sign that your body is willing to perform at top speed whether the work required is physical or mental in nature. According to a recent study by Kathleen Ginis, “self control or willpower is a finite resource”. Once it has been depleted, you’ll find it difficult to do other tasks, until it’s refilled. Willpower is at its best during the morning when we find it easy to complete rigorous tasks, but once we’ve done those, it requires twice as much effort to complete others.
“Willpower is at its best during the morning when we find it easy to complete rigorous tasks”
Ideas and creativity, however, may peak during non-optimal hours
Okay, here’s where it gets a little confusing. Ever noticed how ideas just pop out of nowhere when you are trying to sleep? Perhaps, it happens more frequently when you’re driving, taking a shower, or doing dishes. According to a study by Mareiki Wietha and Rose Zacks, creative ideas may come to us during our least optimal times. Surprised? I was too. The reason is because when you’re feeling tired, you tend to get distracted and lose focus on any one task, allowing you to see a problem as a whole and make more connections. In other words, the more focused you are the less creative you are.
“creative ideas may come to us during our least optimal times.”
Then when do we write creatively?
So, do we write in the morning, in the evening, or at night? The answer is simple: whatever suits you best. Naturally, this is a debate with two schools of thought. While morning larks may argue about creative juices flowing in the morning, night owls may swear upon creativity after non-traditional work hours. Other arguments include ‘when you’re in a good mood’, ‘right when you wake up’, and so on.
What is optimal for you may not be for another. For example, did you know that Charles Dickens was a lark and would finish his writings at 2 pm after lunch each day? Like clockwork. This could be true for you too.
Whatever you do, make sure you follow a routine. Despite the way your body clock works, a routine will allow your ‘cheat’ and have your body adjust to your most preferred time. As a consequence, your brain will be naturally prepared for the task, making it easier for you to work. Sometimes, waiting around for your optimal time is not an option, and just a matter of building a routine or ‘getting work done’. I like how E.B. White puts this:
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” – E.B. White