When you’re mostly retired, like I am, you find that you think best in the morning. I’ve written and published 29 children’s books, and each one was born in the a.m. (not after midnight).
At night I am pretty worthless. I can usually read until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. Then it’s Snoozeville after that, which did not serve me well in college. I also slept through my 8:00 a.m. English class, but that was mostly because I hurried through Iowa winter weather to get there, sat down in my fluffy coat, got over- heated and started dreaming. The instructor even wrote on my final paper, “I am giving you an A, even though you slept through my classes.”
I thought I had been so clever sitting in the back.
At night, the sorority sisters would gather together to study. I fell asleep one night with a cup of cocoa in my hand and poured it all over my robe while everyone laughed at me.
Then I figured out that I’m a morning person (I was always the first in the showers). For exercising, walking the dogs, all of it. If I have to share driving duty, it’d better be the early shift. Once I drove a car full of unsuspecting women on mountain roads after midnight and kept dozing off (everyone else was asleep). It’s a miracle we are all still here.
I’m like the military. I get more done by 6:00 a.m. than you do all day.
I was a USPS letter carrier for two summers. That job included getting up by 4:45 to make it into work by 6:00 a.m. (30-minute commute).
But I digress.
When I was raising a trio of children, my only quiet time was early. I would write before they woke up. Now they are grown and gone, but I still like to write while my brain is fresh from sleeping.
New ideas jump onto the page before noon. I can revise into the night if I already have something to work with. Getting down the first draft is the hardest part for me. Capturing an idea and turning it into something is where the magic happens. Everybody has ideas. Making them profitable is a whole other ball of wax.
Doodling is good, even though I can’t draw. Wordplay is good. For me I need quiet, no TV, no music or just soft instrumental music (no words), nobody in the next room who could burst in at any moment.
No phone calls. If I stop to answer, the bubble has popped, and my state of mind has shifted out of the imaginary story-telling mode into the present. It’s hard to get it back once the interruption has happened.
Sometimes photos will trigger a memory. Often a Facebook post will trigger something from way back. Or a song, or a phrase. I have to put the idea on paper before I forget.
I get ideas 24/7 and jot them down for the next morning. I have paper and pens everywhere. I usually do my first draft of a story on a legal pad or in a spiral notebook. I don’t make a Word file until I have the essence of the story in hard copy. Creating is earthy, organic, and better for me away from screens.
It has been 30 years of story-making. I had to figure all of this out, what works for me.
Draft # 1 is never good enough. But capturing it on paper makes it a candidate for a future, polished, saleable story.
It’s not me in the photo. My generation didn’t have PCs at that age.