Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Night Owl

by Cathryn Parry

As you might notice, I’m late posting this blog.  My plan yesterday evening was to work on a chunk of story edits and then write my piece for the Super blog before turning in for the night.
Just a few moments later (that’s all that it felt like!) the cat was jumping on my manuscript pages, war-gaming with my pen, and squawking at me to let him out for his early morning hunting session.

I’d done it again—I’d stayed up way past my bedtime, into the hours where my neighbors were getting up to start their early morning routines.  And I hadn’t even written my blog yet.
Now, I’m not confessing this incident to show how virtuous I am with my writing.  On the contrary—just ask my husband, he’ll tell you—I procrastinate too much and don’t always plan my time the way that I should.  But since I no longer commute every day to a job with a fixed start-time, I’m finding that my schedule has been naturally morphing into one where my body rhythms feel most comfortable.

It turns out that I love writing “third shift.”  During the summer after high school, I worked a job waitressing at a truck-stop type place (New Englanders might remember the Howard Johnson’s chain), and the only shift available to me was the 11 PM to 7 AM slot. 

At first, I was worried about my ability to stay awake all night, but as it turned out, this time slot was a natural for me, the family “night owl.”  Once I had permission to stay up late without feeling guilty for it, I grew to fall in love with working the wee hours. 
At night, there is space to think.  To stretch out.  For long stretches of time, nobody is around to talk to you because most of the world is sleeping.  It’s a perfect time to let stories unwind in your head.

The dawn is beautiful.  This morning, there were red streaks across the horizon and the world was hushed.  The cat and I stood on the porch together, breathing in the quiet, dew-scented air.
That freedom to choose your schedule is the great thing about being your own boss.  You can fit your work in around your natural inclinations, instead of letting work dictate your day.

How about you?  When do you work best?  Morning, afternoon, evening…or third shift?
Leave a reply, and I'll choose one random commenter on Saturday for a copy of Out of His League.

Cathryn Parry is the author of (almost) four Superromances.  Her third title, “Out of His League,” a Boston-set romance between an outgoing Major League baseball pitcher and a shy anesthesiologist, is a July release.  Please see her website at www.CathrynParry.com.



Kristina Mathews said...

I stayed up too late last night, too. I was watching the Giants baseball game go extra innings. They lost in the 13th :(

Then I had to work on my WIP, I'm almost to the end. Had to write the Black Moment and after my team lost, it came pretty naturally. Except for the splint on my left pinky. I fell getting into a boat on Sunday and I didn't realize how much I use my little finger.

Nothing worse than being at that point in your MS where the ideas flow like the spring runoff and you can't physically keep up. Fortunately the backspace key is on the right side.

Looking forward to your new release.

Cathryn Parry said...

Thank you, Kristina. Funny, I have a bandage on my left pinky, too. The cat caught me with his claw. (My fault...I should have known better than to tease him.)

I was worried about the typing too, until I realized I only use that finger for the shift key. Weird!

liztalley said...

Unfortunately my best creative time is about 4pm -7pm - the absolute WORST time when you have a family. So I do the best I can to leave the WIP open and get a little revising in during those hours. My initial idea is there from earlier work in the morning, but usually I can make the thought better with better word choice.

I can't imagine working those hours, Cathryn. You have my admiration.

Cathryn Parry said...

Liz, those are very hard hours to be productive--I'm sorry! You're a heroine for getting work done around dinner/family time. You have my admiration! :-)

BW said...

As a technical writer, I do my best writing between 10:30 am to about 4:30pm or 5pm.

Rogenna Brewer said...

I consider myself a morning person. For many of the same reasons that you like the wee hours, I like those wee hours from a different perspective.

Love my morning walks through the park.

That said I still find myself awake and writing or working late into the midnight hour. I usually have to force myself to bed, but If I get up any later than 6am I feel like I've wasted the day.

Cathryn Parry said...

Hi BW, I think that's ideal. You get the best part of the day that way.

Hi Ro. This is true--we're both up at the same time! I wish I could go to bed early and get up at 6 AM--I have tried, but more often than not, I shut off the alarm and keep sleeping.

Bri said...

I'm an evening into third shift kind of person. I tend to get a second wind around 8 pm and can usually push it until 2 or 3 in the morning if I do not have any pressing responsibilities

linda s said...

I'm a night owl, too.
Since I was young, my days have been filled with other people's stuff from 6-10. Anything personal like reading or later being on the computer had to happen after ten at night. I would often stay up all night two or three times a week just for the quiet.

Laney4 said...

I hear ya.

I too work from home. Last week I typed until 5:15 am and rolled into bed at 5:35. It was already daylight out and my husband woke up, so I didn't go to sleep till 6:05 am. Slept till 10:50 am. Was up working till 1 am that night, but it caught up with me and I slept till amost 10 am the next morning.

Basically I can do it if I have to, but now that I'm in my fifties, it catches up with me faster.

I try to spend my mornings "cleaning up on the computer" and doing personal things. As soon as lunch is done, I seem to "come to life", finding my best times between 4 and 8 pm. I think it's because my arthritis causes me to walk like an old woman until I get moving a bit, plus epsom salt baths help later in the morning. Once I'm warmed up, I'm raring to go, physically and mentally.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Mary Preston said...

I work through the middle of the day now.

When I was nursing I always enjoyed the night shift. Though the basements in the hospital were super creepy at night.

Fedora said...

I typically like that late-night time, too--I think that it's a nice, quiet time to get work done. By then, the rest of the family is sleeping, most of the chores are done or forgotten, and I can enjoy some focused time :) For some reason, I get far more distracted during the day by laundry, or making something for dinner, or recalling that I need to e-mail 2 people about something or other...

And yes, having the flexibility to set your own schedule is dreamy ;)

Best wishes, Cathryn!

Summer said...

I'm much more of a night person than a morning, I function much better in the later hours. By the way, your new book sounds great, I'm a sports fan, so I'm always looking for athlete heroes.

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