I’ve always prided myself on being a night owl. I used to brag about avoiding homework, writing, reading, anything important until around eleven pm. Whenever the subject of preferred writing times came up, I argued that I did my best work with a can of red bull beside me.
That was before I started graduate school. As a full-time MFA student who’s also teaching an undergraduate course, the reality is that I’m running on a very different schedule than I’m used to. For one thing, the class I teach starts at 8:30 am. That alone makes writing into the wee hours of the night look foolish, but more importantly, it’s often difficult for me to write late in the evenings because, by then, I have way too much going on in my head. It’s difficult for me to write the way I want to – free of pressure and with enough time to allow myself to linger over words and make all kinds of changes – when my mind is racing from everything that’s happened in the whirlwind I call a day. When I wake up early in the morning to write, however, I feel like I have a clean slate. I drink tea (albeit caffeinated), meditate, and sit down at my desk. Another benefit of waking up early is that it’s quiet outside as well. I’ve decided that Newark (or at least the part of Newark outside my bedroom window) is a very loud city – traffic, sirens, screaming homeless people (I’m serious), and more sirens. If I wake up at 5 am, my writing beats the noise that comes with a day in the city.
Now, I don’t always write so early in the morning. Sometimes I really do need to sleep in, but my point is that, unlike a few months ago, I now see the morning as prime real estate. Whether or not, I take advantage of it is up to me, but it’s nice to know it’s there if I want it.