The Creative Sweet Spot. What Time of Day Do You Find Yours?

Photo courtesy of Vivi Rindom and stock.xchng

Photo courtesy of Vivi Rindom and stock.xchng

I’m not creative in the mornings. At least not anymore.

I’ve heard that night owls have their breakthroughs in the morning. I’m a night owl so it seems I should be at my creative best soon after waking.

This week I started working on the second draft of my novel. I’ve tried to get up early, go to my computer and jump into writing. It’s not working. I’ve found that if I work on the less stimulating things like catching up on email and such, do a few household chores then begin writing in the afternoon the creative juices flow better.

Now, I wrote the first draft in the mornings so I’m not sure what’s holding me back. After a little research I found this article by Cindi May: Creative Time Is Not When You Think at Scientific American. In the article it talks about circadian rhythms, morning and evening type people and distractions. “When we operate at our optimal time of day, we filter out the distractions in our world and get down to business,” it says. That explains why I found it easy to write the first draft in the mornings. But, why am I struggling with the second draft?

…being at your best may be over-rated, at least for people seeking innovative ideas or creative solutions. To be sure, if your task requires strong focus and careful concentration – like balancing spreadsheets or reading a textbook – you are better off scheduling that task for your peak time of day. However, if you need to open your mind to alternative approaches and consider diverse options, it may be wise to do so when your filter is not so functional. You just may be able to see what you’ve been missing.

Photo Courtesy of b1gtuna and stock.xchng

Photo Courtesy of b1gtuna and stock.xchng

That’s an explanation I can live with.

For the second draft, I need to open my mind further in order to push the limits of what I’ve already put to paper. The foundation is there, the walls are erected and now it’s time to decorate. I don’t want to duplicate the wall-hangings, rugs and furniture of other novels. They must be unique to the story.

Solutions to problems need to be found and to do so I need to approach it from a different angle. A few of the characters need personality injections. I need to open my mind to diverse options.

It makes sense to me now. So here I go again changing my schedule in the hope of finishing the second draft on time.

  • Wow, fascinating! I’ve thought many times about being more mentally alert at various times of day, but never about the fact that certain times might be better for certain specific types of tasks than others. Too cool.

    • M. Frye

      It surprised me. After reading that article, it made a lot of sense.