Finding Your Write-O-Rhythm
At the beginning of the summer I decided to do an experiment, knowing that I was scheduled to begin writing my third book in the fall. The purpose of the exercise was to figure out how to maximize creative flow, and make the most of my allotted writing time. Naturally, I used myself as the guInea pig, and being the science nerd that I am, I hypothesized that creative energy and writing productivity are cycles just like biorhythms. Meaning, if I wanted to maximize writing hours, I needed to figure out which hours, if any, were more creative for my body and mind. Here’s the data I collected.
With the benefit of summer’s long days, I forced myself to abandon my traditional get up at dawn and start writing routine. Instead, I set a goal of logging at least three to four work hours a day, but didn’t assign any specific time block—morning, afternoon, or late at night—to meet this goal. I made a point to leave my days flexible, scheduling only must do appointments, and as I went through the day, I would periodically pause and ask myself, “Are you ready to write now?”
If I heard yes, then I’d sit down and write until I’d run out of words, and if my three hour minimum wasn’t realized, I stopped, did some other things on my to-do list, and then came back to the computer a little later. This was a huge challenge for me, by the way, since in the past, I would force myself to sit for the entire writing block regardless if I was productive, or if I was staring at a blank screen. If I heard no when I asked if the time was right to write, then I went on with my day and asked the question again a little later. Before I went to bed each night, I wrote down which hours I wrote and how many words and chapters I accomplished.
This simple exercise of asking and listening led to some interesting results. For starters, I was less harried and more flexible, since, in the past, if something unexpected came up that interrupted my writing time, I got anxious and irritated, worrying that if I didn’t make word count that day, the deficit would snowball, and delay my completion deadline; pressure that never helped my creative mojo.
After a few weeks, I discovered the strangest phenomena. My nightly data proved that I could easily write more than three hours daily without having a firm schedule. A fact that I wouldn’t have believed if it hadn’t been discovered by trial and error.
When Labor Day came, I knew the easy days of summer were numbered. Dawn and dusk edged closer, stealing daylight, signaling it was time for me to start my new story. I went back over my notes that listed the times I chose to write over the last three months, and just like I guessed, there was a pattern. Almost all of my logged hours were before noon, overwhelming evidence, that, for now, my creative flow was most prevalent during the morning; sometimes even before the crack of dawn.
Now that I’m aware of my write-o-rhythm, I make sure to keep my mornings open, so as to take advantage of peak creative flow. If you ever find yourself really wanting to write, but discover that you are doing everything but putting words on paper, try figuring out your write-o-rhythm. If the progress in my third book is any indication, the experiment is well worthwhile.
E.L Chappel author of Spirit Dance/Storm Makers/ and coming soon: The Surge
We are all amazing, creative beings; we just need to take time to get to know ourselves.
aka The Glamorous Wife