The Right Time To Write

Thursday, February 24, 2022

I’ve got a writing predicament over here and I don’t know quite how to fix it. 

It’s not the usual problem, like a muddled middle, a runaway plot, or a flat character. It’s a bit more complicated and a lot more embarrassing. On the other hand, I feel like my writing friends will understand. 

Because I need a little validation, a smidgen of compassion. But then again, I might get a swift kick in the laptop instead. Anyway, here goes:

I can only write under certain circumstances and that’s about to change! 

Whew. It’s a relief to finally say it out loud. 

Except I sense you might be confused, struggling as it were to get on board the Cathy C. Hall Support Train. So let me explain further. 

As you may recall, I’m working on an adult mystery. I started the serious writing in the fall, and then NaNo came along (in November) when I set a goal that would require a certain amount of discipline. Fortunately, my discipline paid off with a writing routine that has taken me through this very day. But now I’ve got a big problem looming. 

Hmmm. Maybe you need to understand the routine a little better to fully grasp the enormity of the situation. Picture this: Every day around 6:00 PM in my corner of the world, dusk is settling in and I turn on one lamp where the glow spreads across my desk, casting a dappled shadow. The temperature has started to drop so I fire up my space heater to take off the chill and more often than not, a hot cup of tea sits next to the keyboard. As the sun sets, I’m typing away; the room grows darker, colder, a hush falls with nothing but the steady buzz of a heater to keep me company. But then a snap, a crack! What was that outside? Did someone just pass by my window? A shiver runs down my spine as I glance behind my chair. 

Could it be any more obvious? Six o’clock is perfect for cozy mystery writing! And after a solid hour, sometimes two, I have another five hundred words written and/or edited (more or less). 

For four months, it’s been the absolute right time to write. And I’ve got just a few chapters left. But now, when I sit down to write at 6:00 PM, the dadburn sun is still kinda shining. Birds are chirping. Happy little kids are playing outside. How am I supposed to write a mystery with all that going on? 

I need my shadows, a hint of intrigue in the air. I crave secrets, the darker, the better. I WANT THAT HAUNTED FEELING. 

It’s a huge challenge, y’all. And here’s the embarrassing part: I don’t think I can switch it up. 

Am I to suddenly start writing at 8:00 PM? My brain is winding down then; I’m deciding whether to watch a Friends episode or something on Netflix. Not to mention that I’d have to eat around 6:00 and that leads to digestive torpor, right? 

There’s always the afternoon, you say. But that’s for business writing and such. Am I to change my entire writing schedule at this advanced stage of my career? There’s mornings, though. Bright and early, greeting the day!


It’s a predicament that only other writers can appreciate. To wit, I finally find the right time to write and the universe comes along and ruins it.

(Tell me I’m not the only crazy one! Do you have a right time to write? And why?)


Angela Mackintosh said...

Cath ~ This is exciting news to hear you continued your writing routine since November. And you're almost at the finish line with a few chapters left! I hope you don't lose momentum. It sounds like the sunset and season was a ritual for you, so you might try replacing it with another ritual, like making some tea and lighting a fragrant candle ten minutes before you're going to write. The act of doing something repetitive that's only related to your writing time should help you drift into that mindset. :)

I tend to write in the morning and don't keep a regular schedule except when I'm on deadline or during NaNo, so I need to follow my own advice. ;)

Marcia Peterson said...

I don't blame you for needing the right vibe! I wonder if you could try making your environment more like what you want at your preferred writing time. Maybe close the blinds to darken the room, or even get blackout coverings. Also choose some background music or sounds to create the mood you want. Good luck!

Renee Roberson said...

Hmm . . . I was going to suggest blackout curtains or something similar, too. I write spooky stuff a lot and I've grown accustomed to writing all hours of the day whenever I have a window of time, but there is something to be said about the ritual, especially when writing a mystery. I usually have to light a candle and play some instrumental tunes to set my mood. Is there a darkened closet or something you could go in with your laptop? That might make for a fun change of pace!

Renee Roberson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee Roberson said...

Unknown was Renee, by the way. I was logged into the wrong Gmail account, ugh!

Renee Roberson said...

"Unknown" was Renee, by the way. I was keeping in theme with the mystery, LOL! Sorry.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Like several others, I suggest black-out shades. Perhaps even a spooky record (if you still have a turntable).

Early morning is my best time to write. Or late at night. Or late at night I fall asleep on the couch, wake up in the middle of the night, and write then.

You get the idea...

Cathy C. Hall said...

Y'all have some great ideas! I didn't think about closing my curtains or even lighting a candle. I guess I'm just so stuck in my ritual, options didn't occur to me. It's almost superstitious, now that I think about it.

I don't think I could write in my closet, though. That kinda triggers a childhood nightmare. On the other hand, if I decide to go for a horror novel, I'll know where to write. :-)

And P.S. Of course I have a turntable, Sioux! Old radio people never give up their vinyl.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

So many wonderful ideas! A writing ritual can be a huge help. My rewrite ritual used to involve printing out the manuscript, moving to the dining room, getting a cup of coffee and lighting my black licorice candle. It had nothing to do with the candle being black and everything to do with licorice. Sadly, the new candle is stinky and soy and achoo! Not at all conducive to writing. Fingers crossed that some of these great ideas work for you.

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