Pros on When to Write

When do you write best?

  • In the morning.
  • In the afternoon.
  • In the evening.
  • In the middle of the night.

0 voters

The Study Hack blog has some information on how ten successful writers schedule their writing:

Here’s the summary:

The most striking observations from this study:

  1. The writers work in the morning. They often start very early in the morning.

  2. Five out of ten of the writers described a little ritual before starting their morning writing. A surprising number of these rituals focused on The New York Times.

  3. The writers drink coffee. Lots of coffee.

  4. The writers write in isolation. If they didn’t have families they would push this even farther. Many discussed having no e-mail or phone in their workspace. One purposefully used a “shitty old laptopâ€

If I write in the morning its the main job of work done before anything else. After that minor jobs can be done.

If I write in the afternoon after doing anything else its like the writing is secondary. Also you find yourself making notes about watching people pick their nose in public and such. Unnecessary.

Best method so far. Get out of bed. Boot laptop and make coffee. 2-3 hours later go out for breakfast. Spend day at beach or by pool. Later, reflect on what a tough day it has been and make notes.


Double posted cos the site hung.


Seconded on the ‘being slightly hungry’ thing.

I write in the morning and the evenings, equally well. Actually, I tend to fluctuate, depending on my other work and sleeping patterns at the time.

When I write in the morning’s, it’s similar to TheQuietOne’s experience - doing a few solid hours before breakfast, at least until my grumbling stomach refuses to be acquiesced. I absolutely MUST shower first, though. Scalding water running over my head works something like an idea catalyst for me - things that were muddy the day before become crystal clear in that tiny oblong wonder-box.

When I write in the evening, I have no luck unless I’m out of the house. This has a lot to do with the fact that my workspace at home is also my bedroom, so the vibes are all wrong for productive scrivening. If I go out to a café, one or two coffees are all I need to get a few thousand words flowing out of an evening. I find editing is a much smoother process in the evening, so I tend to follow this pattern when I’m polishing an existing piece.

Note that the blog was writing about non-fiction writers, which may - in part - explain the NYT.

A lot of the fiction writers I know do write in the morning, but a lot are also all over the clock. I think writing regularly is more important than the time at which the writing is done.

I’d be a total night owl if I let myself, but dealing with worldly matters is too much of a hassle when I do that, so my second default time is mid-morning. Any earlier is useless. I do not possess a single synapse that would fire at 5am.


Background: Writing fiction in an attempt to express the ideas that I can’t seem to simply say to my kids. I have a full time job that eats 50-609 hours a week plus family responsibilities. I write when i have time. Typically 3-5K words that get edited down to 1K then chopped up to actually make sense.

When: Any moment that is not spoken for is available for creative writing. I keep scriv open and ready to go. I jot notes in indecipherable chick scratch if scriv is not available. I have a nightly time just before bed that I try to use for editing, but frequently skip. I have a weekly review (Saturday after lunch and again after grocery shopping) for editing that has been neglected that last couple of weeks. I have a “deadline” of delivering a chapter to the kid for review on Sunday afternoon.

That is the plan anyway. Right now I am on the “undependable” list with the chapter delivery. I had to go back and rework a couple of character points and wound up a tad discouraged then things at work picked up a bunch. I should be back onto the schedule in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, that is what I am doing.

I like the idea of writing your novel on the job during your coffeebreaks, the way Stuart Hill did with his “Cry of the Icemark”. Of course the reason this idea appeals to me could have something to do with him working in a bookstore like I do myself.


I interpreted the word ‘writer’ as a fiction/creative writer, and choose “In the middle of the night”. Then I read that the ten given examples are non-fiction writers, so I admit that I write that kind of things better in the morning, just after a shower and breakfast. Making researches and inquiries is much easier at that time of day.

Fiction and non-fiction are two different approaches, requiring two different status of mind: pressured by schedules for non-fiction, and totally isolated from the rest of the world when writing fiction.

But I’m a pro non-fiction writer, while my pro business in the fiction field is extremely limited, so I might change my habit when actually starting to write novels.


The glib – but not altogether facetious – answer is along the lines of the answer to the fruit grower’s question, “When should I prune the apple tree?” The answer: when the saw is sharp.

So I write – or try to – when the pencil is sharp. When the computer is turned on. When the page is blank. Whenever I can arrange to apply seat of pants to seat of chair.


I’m in an odd situation. My work involves a heavy load of utilitarian writing, in that I write legal briefs and pleadings most of the day. (Some of you would teasingly assert that everything a lawyer writes falls into the category of “fiction,” :mrgreen: but it’s really not!) I get to have fun writing fiction on the weekends and in the evenings, on my own time. Overall, I seem to do research and return phone calls in the morning, and my court appearances are most often scheduled in the morning. Then, I’m ready to write in the afternoon.

I write best in the buff…


Fix your avitar then SICK 'EM!! We found psyco.

Wherever you write must be a heck of a lot warmer than my house! :open_mouth:

Folks, a real scrivener on the Scrivener forum who uses Scrivener :mrgreen:


UGGHHH!!! How positively revolting!!! :open_mouth:

Doesn`t bear( or is it bare), thinking about!

I can feel a fur ball on its way up!!


I definitely find I do my best writing in the early morning - when no one else is up, the sun is not yet up and its still quiet out.

Oh, please no! One of my kitties was sick all over the kitchen floor this morning, and I’ve had enough cat barf for one day! :frowning: At least there will be one really, good, bright spot to this grey and rainy Tuesday: By the time I get home and get settled in with a good cup of coffee and a (non-barfing) cat in my lap, to begin writing what I want to write, the polls will have closed in Ohio, and there will be no more political campaign commercials on TV (at least until October)! :mrgreen:

-The scrivener using Scrivener