Why do some people write best at night?

Hi all!

During the day I have a very short attention span; I try to force myself to write but it’s a losing battle; at night, however, I can focus for many hours at a time; I could easily lose track of time and find myself having “pulled an all-nighter.”

Anyone else have this?

Anyone know why some people are this way?

I rather wish I wasn’t this way - because then it’s hard to keep the rest of my life (such as it is) on track. But I’ll take what I can get I suppose.

It sounds like you’re a “night owl,” or one of those nocturnal people whose creative juices flow when the sun goes down. My husband and my mother are like that.

Yes, I think that’s true. Thanks! :smiley:

However, I’m wondering, “why?” Is is a screwed up circadian rhythm? A mere personality trait?

And, more importantly, how do my fellow night-owls deal with this? It’s a little hard to carry on a normal, “adult” (LOL!) life when I’m up until 3AM every morning.

When all the others are sleeping, they cannot interrupt you. You know they can’t - and that disburdens you! So the creativity unfolds free from all “somebody might come through my door any moment”-anxieties.

That’s my explanation. I can write best whenever I am sure I won’t be interrupted - when I am alone in the house, when I’m on the train, late in the evening, early in the morning…

In other circumstances, I just do my best, but it’s an additional effort.

It happens with me, too. Definitely. Not only writing creatively, but also any other kind of writing. If I’m fresh enough and have slept a bit more in the morning, I can write more, and better, during night.


Absolutely. Same thing happens if I’m on vaction – or otherwise away from normal activities and disruptions – with no pressures to “perform,” socially or otherwise.


That actually never occurred to me - this happens all the time; I assumed it was just a change of scenery; but now that you mention it, perhaps it’s the absence of distractions and interruptions.

Another thing that’s odd: I was bought up in a New England culture that puts a high premium on getting up with the sun. So part of my wondering about this, I think, is a kind of obscure guilt. Of course, no one ever explained why “getting up with the sun” is better than going to bed late; but nevertheless it’s been drilled into me to feel that getting up early is somehow morally superior.

It is an agricultural thing. In NE the days can be short and prior to the advent of electrical distribution systems folks relied on daylight to get things done. Lazy people wasted the daylight and paid to light the night with oil. So “good” people get up with the sun.

Make sense?

The absence of distractions is probably a huge part of it. Here’s one way of figuring out whether it’s the peacefulness of the small hours of the night, versus a natural tendency to work best at night: When you’re on vacation, and you lack the usual distractions, do you still tend to stay up until 3 a.m. to do your best work? If you do, you’re probably a night owl. It’s just how you’re put together.

I think Jaysen’s right; that “early to bed and early to rise” philosophy stems from the days before Edison freed the night owls to be themselves!

Hum. I live in a sunny country, and working at night, during summer, saves a lot of the energy needed to keep our offices fresh. So, good people, here, work at night.


And the Mediterranean area has always had a ready supply of oil. The nordics used whale or seal oil (as did the inuits). The anglos and saxons, as well os other more interior nations has to use wood, less abundant animal grease, and of course, the regal bees wax.

As you already pointed out much energy could be saved by simply not working during the heat of the day. On the other hand, the 9 months of cold weather demands that we reduce energy by working when the sun is up to heat the buildings.

Traditions die hard. Kids are still taught that “good people” get up early and get to work.

I do some of my best writing at night. I think mainly because my creative part of my brain never shuts down, but at night that annoying perfectionist editor part of my brain starts to fall asleep.

I can write durning the day but find myself always deleting what I wrote as soon as it hits the screen. So I’m always stuck a few lines in (if I get that far). It takes some work, but I can quiet that part long enough to write. But durning the day, it’s screaming at me, and at night, it’s just a light snore.

So I do most of my writing at night, and my editing durning the day, if i can help it at least.

That’s my logic. Hope that helps.