Writing Exercises: "Challenges to Writing in the Evening"

Bare with me morning writers because I will be wrapping up this topic today naturally with a list of warning signs for evening writers to be aware of as they write in, well, the evening. Next week's topic, writers and dreams, will be far more relevant to everyone so bare with me a little longer!

Evening writers, although we are dedicated to our creative clock of working well into the nights, we are all particularly familiar to the challenges that come with evening time during the work week. It can be a frustratingly distracting time that may even hinder our writing. Greaney's book thankfully provides a list of ways in which to work with and around our distraction-filled schedules to still fit in time for writing.

1) "I'm exhausted!"

We all mutter this decisive phrase many times throughout the week, or the day if you're me and most of the population of the globe. Our work weeks are full of carpooling, errand running, classes, work and other forms of community involvement. The trick here is that if all of this is getting in the way of your writing, you have to create a better writing plan. If its an odd period of your day that simply is demanding more, but is expected to lessen, at least have your journal ready at your bedside and write a full page propped up against your pillow. Write until your eyes droop!

2) My partner/spouse/family watches TV

Battle station, battle station, battle station. Your battle station is important for this reason. You need your quiet place to write, so escape to it! Of course, unless you can not escape it. If that is the case than here are three immediate things you can do: Put on some headphones and play your project's playlist of music that will keep you in the zone, go to bed before everyone else with your laptop of notebook, or make a fun challenge out of that distracting television. With your headphones on: play music until you drown out the character's voices on the screen. Rewrite their dialog in the situation you're seeing and go to town on a new prompt!

3) Once I get home, that's family time

My immediate answer to this is stop off somewhere before you get home. Maybe at that café that's between home and work and write away. Buy yourself a relaxing beverage and write the work day away. You will be much more relaxed once you are home and your family will enjoy this calmer version of you.

4) I just want to kick back and relax

If your workday was extra grueling, leave your lighter, happier writing assignments for your before bed writing. Before then, recuperate yourself and relax with a pleasant writing assignment before bed.

5) I get home late and I'm starving

When I come home from late nights my table manners deteriorate just a tad as I write or read at the table as I eat. This helps me relax greatly, but more importantly this helps me get in a bit of writing before I call it a night.

6) I have middle-of-the-night insomnia, so I need to get to bed early so I can patch together a full eight hours

This is one I could not relate to more if I tried. The truth is my fellow insomnia sufferers, lying there trying to trick yourself into sleeping only worsens your already active brain. This is one of the things writing has helped me with greatly, and yes I am sure it is getting repetitive hearing me bash you with the word "writing" over and over but it is what this blog is about. When I get hit with insomnia I simply get up, grab my journal and sit at my desk with my lamp on. Few pages later, my brain's had enough and let's me sleep. I may lose an hour or two, but the the other six to seven are actually restful.

7) My company has offices or centers in three time zones, so my Blackberry goes off all night long

The most basic answer I can deliver here is unless it is in your job description to answer calls after hours, you can turn it off. You have the right to especially since said companies should have your home phones (or in this modern day other phone numbers) to reach you.

8) But this is my time with my kids!

Wait until they've been tucked in for the night and then write until it is your bedtime. As Greaney point out, you can even encourage your children to take up some writing of their own. Who ever said writing could not be a shared family activity?

9) Between volunteer work and errands and social appointments, my evenings are busier than my days!

Nobody ever wants to become a hermit (I already am a veteran hermit like many others). However, as a writer you do have to make sacrifices for your writing. There is no way around it. If your the "yes man/woman" at work, which I applaud you for by the way, it is time to start saying "no." Your writing is suffering for it.

10) I don't feel very clever or sharp at night

Yeah me neither. Most of what I draft in the evenings after a busy day will make me chuckle. I have an entire next day to go over what I read (at the appropriate times during the day), and so do you. Its ok if what you put down on that crisp page of your journal (or typed on that blank document on your laptop) does not seem so hot at a second glance. That's what redrafting is for. Write anyway, even if you want to roll your eyes at what you're seeing. As writers we have to work through every bit of our writing and rewrite to make it "perfect."

Overcoming these challenges, my fellow evening writers, is key to getting into your own writing rhythm. If you're still facing any of the challenges listed above, its simply time to rework your writing schedule of figure out creative ways in which to balance your work time and your home time.

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