Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Way We Are: Lark or Owl?

Many thanks, LindaK from Excuse Me While I Note That Down, for the Versatile Blogger award!

Once upon a time, there was a girl. We'll call her "Peggy." She hated to go to bed at night. Her kids were all short sleepers, and never seemed to require much more sleep than she did herself. When they all finally lay nestled in her bed at the end of the day, Peggy was SO READY to accomplish all the things she couldn't seem to manage to accomplish during the day.

She became a night owl. In the dark of the night, all things seemed within reach.

Then one day, Peggy became a writer. She traded in all the things she used to get done after her kids went to bed at night for writing.

And all was well.

Until one day when Peggy realized that her brain actually goes into hibernate mode as soon as the kiddies are tucked in. The product of those late nights tended to be worthy only of the virtual trash heap of deleted words.

So Peggy decided that maybe, just maybe, being a night owl wasn't the most effective way to squeeze more time out of the day. So three months ago she decided to give being a Lark a try and started waking up at 5:45 a.m. She found that a fresh brain works much better for her than an end-of-the-day one.

(Now if we could only convince her that she can't be both a Lark AND a Night Owl...)

After sharing a room at a conference with a girl who stayed up writing into the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the hotel roommates slumbered, the girl Peggy wondered about the way writers are. Of course, writers have to grab time from wherever they can find it, but surely there is a time of day when each writer's brain works better and more efficiently than others. And now, she really wonders this question:

When it comes to writing, are you a Night Owl, or a Lark?

As the answer to this great life question has been keeping the girl Peggy awake at night, she'll be grateful to finally have the mystery revealed.

44 comments:

Maeve Frazier said...

Peggy - this is great! I have to say I was a night owl, too. Now, I get up early to get my writing in. I won't even tell you the hour that I do to squeeze in time to write. I recently made this switch. I'll let you know soon how it is going.

Kelley said...

Definitely a night owl. Most times I have to tell myself at two am that I HAVE to go to bed because I have to get up at 7am for my 'real job'.

But my job in 'fiction land' is so much more fun! :)

Cynthia said...

I tried the night owl and to be honest it work. But I got tired of being tired in the morning. I still have to wake up at he crack of down to go to work. Now I'll write between 6:30/7pm to 8 maybe nine, if Rascal isn't obnoxious. Weekend morning work great two. I'm still trying to figure out the weekday schedule.

Abby Fowers said...

Love story. I am a night owl. I am a terrible morning person. My mind does not work in the mornings. Sometimes I think it's a bit of a curse, but what's a girl to do?

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I am now and have always been a morning person. The problem is that is when I like to work out too, so I hit the gym at 5:00 am. And I have to be at work by 7:30 am, so not much quality writing time there.

I know when Firoozeh Dumas started writing, she got up at 4:00. As ridiculous as it is to believe...I'm actually considering it, to have a fresh brain, then hit the gym, then work.

Patti said...

I used to be a night owl, but like you my brain kind of shuts down after the kids go to bed. I'm not a lark either.

What's a bird that's at it's best mid morning and afternoon.

Ruth Josse said...

I'm a night owl but I don't write much then. After lunch is my prime time. My mind is the most open from noon to three.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I love this. I read a great article a few years ago about how people are either night owls or morning doves. It is, apparently, all about how each person is programmed. I am a morning dove or lark. Like you, I'd love to be both (imagine all the writing that would get done), but my mind turns to pudding late at night.

Angela Brown said...

Night owl or lark? Yeah, so because the idea of getting up early in the morning is as attractive as an eight-armed gorilla in a man-suit, I tend to be a night owl. My brain works well, but eventually by body shuts down and forces me to bed :-)

Stacy Henrie said...

I can't write at night either - brain is too exhausted! I've tried the morning thing and enjoy it. Is there a bird that does best in the afternoon? :) That would be me right now - writing while kids are at school and daughter is napping.

Briane P said...

I used to write whenever I could, but the thing with me is that if I say I'll do something "when I can," then I ALWAYS OUGHT TO BE DOING IT -- so when I say "I'll workout whenever I can," then any free time I have I feel like I should be jogging, and if I say "I'll write when I can" then any free time I have should be spent writing, and all that leads to is "free time that is spent wondering why they don't make a mixed bag of M&Ms so that I could have some peanut and some almond and some pretzel all in one bag, I mean, I know that I could mix them up myself but why should I HAVE to do that, this is the 21st century after all, is it so hard to have a mixed bag of M&Ms? Why did I even bother voting in the last election?"

And that's not very productive.

So I set a schedule: I write every morning from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. That's the plan, anyway. In reality, it's:

5-6 a.m.: realize that the twins are awake and that Mr Bunches wants a glass of milk; know that he will fall back asleep before drinking it but that he won't quit until I get him one, so I get him one and then try to doze while watching the news until 6:00 a.m., only I get irritated that the news focuses on the "farm report." Who's a farmer anymore?

6-6:20 a.m. Actually doze off and miss the part of the news I wanted.

6:20-6:30 a.m.: Make coffee. Try to start computer. Reboot computer several times. Try to log onto wireless internet. Reboot that several times. Wonder if farmers I know would be irritated by my believing they do not exist.

6:30-6:45 a.m. Write.

6:45 a.m.- 7:00 a.m.: Write with Mr Bunches on my lap, as he is waiting to use the computer before he gets ready for school, as the best way to prepare for 4K is to watch as many Thomas The Tank Engine videos as possible.

It's not very productive -- but at least I've got a system, right?

Jessie Humphries said...

I know this girl. We will call her Jessie. She has a small brain. It gets full up all the day long. So she has to get up early to write because its the only time of day when the old brain isn't fried yet:) She's more of a turkey than a lark though!

Maggie said...

Such a lark. But somehow she married an owl who needs nocturnal help with his homework. The poor lark isn't being very lark-ish lately.

JeffO said...

Hmm, tough one. I wake up early, but it takes me a while to get going. So, I'm probably more like a Turkey vulture.

Michael Offutt said...

I tried to get up at the break of dawn to exercise. It lasted a week and then I failed. I'm still fat.

Carrie Butler said...

Unfortunately, I am the owliest of night owls. There are many times when I, too, am up writing at 5:45 a.m. (I just haven't gone to sleep yet.)

Maybe that's why I'm always cranky...

Inspiration is inconvenient sometimes. ;)

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm a lark. Not that I get to write early in the morning. My 2yr old is a lark too and is usually up by 6. I write during naps after lunch and between 8-9pm when the kids are asleep. Assuming they went to sleep and I don't have to go in every ten minutes for something. After 9pm I'm brain dead.

Shilpa said...

Hmm. I don't know really. I seem to be able to write anytime I get the mood. :p I have done nights, mornings and afternoons! But yes, when you have responsibilities as important as kids, I wonder what I will chose.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I really wish I could be a Lark. But, it takes me so long to wake up. I can usually do pretty good at the night owl thing, but my brain does turn to mush sooner than I would like.

Cute story. ;0)

cherie said...

I'm probably the only writer who can be a night owl, a lark, and neither. I write when I have time to get my butt on the desk chair, and that can mean any time in the day--when my boy is watching a movie for instance, or when the kids are at grandma's house, after they're in bed, before they wake up, while making dinner (jotting down notes), or right after I drop off my girl at school. Anytime, anywhere, when I can. ;)

WilyBCool said...

In my youth, night owl worked great, now.... not so good. Brain shuts down even if body doesn't after a certain hours each day.. oh well.

Susan Oloier said...

I love "Peggy's" story. I used to be very much like her until my brain stopped working well at night, too. Unfortunately, not only do my kids go to bed around the same time I do, one of them gets up in the middle of the night often. So neither night owl or lark work for me. I write mid-morning (what kind of bird would that be? A robin?) when they are both in school.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Maeve-- Wait- why won't you tell me what time? Now you got me all kinds of curious!

Kelley-- Haha! Yes, fiction job definitely more fun.

Cynthia-- And suddenly I wonder how many people are a night owl or a lark because they HAVE to be, not because that's what works best...

Abby-- A curse? Are you referring to the morning parts? I would actually love the brain working at night thing. You know... until it was time to wake up way too early. ;)

Tasha-- Wow! Now that's dedication! I've started going to the gym at 6:00 three days a week, and I've tried to get up at 5:00 so I can work for an hour before the gym, but I can't seem to. Hubby's a night owl, and I was for too many years to give it up easily. 4:00? That sounds painful. Best of luck!

Patti-- I don't know. But I think I'm it even more than a Lark, whatever it is.

Ruth-- There should definitely be a bird for that!

Cynthia CW-- I totally agree! It's the way we're programmed. It's the only way to explain it.

Angela-- Hahahahahaha! So funny! Yeah, sounds like morning is definitely not the best time for you.

Stacy-- Idk, but there should be. I definitely enjoy mornings, and do well to wake up early, but I do get my best writing done in the afternoons, too.

Briane-- Your comment KILLED me! Oh, my gosh. That was hilarious. And yes. It's all about the system. If you've got that, you've got everything.

Jessie-- Snort! Turkey... whatev. I'd say whatever you're doing is working. That ms of yours is FAB.

Maggie-- Aw, poor un-Larkish Lark. I really feel for you. Especially to have to do HOMEWORK at a time when your brain is exhausted! I hope you get to return to your Larkish ways soon.

JeffO-- Hehe- turkey vulture. I get your general gist. Hmm. But I'm still trying to work out what, exactly, that means....

Michael-- You made me laugh out loud! That was awesome.

Carrie-- WOW! You are the owliest of night owls! Seriously flummoxed at how your brain can still function at those hours! And dang that inspiration. I hate when it inconveniences. ;)

S.P.-- It sounds like a plan that works! And working is what counts. Except for when it doesn't...

Shilpa-- So you're a Larkish Owl with something else in the middle, then. Sounds perfect!

Jenny-- My brain turns to mush sooner than I'd like, too! Darn it.

Cherie-- That is AWESOME. And reminded me a little of Green Eggs and Ham. I can write in a boat! And I can write with a goat! And I can write in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And I will write here and there. I will write ANYWHERE! :)

WilyBCool-- And there you have it-- proof that you may not be an Owl or a Lark all your life.

Susan-- I totally get where you're coming from! Both in school sounds way more perfect, anyway. :)

Ciara said...

I'm a Lark, but can't get up any earlier and still need more time. I already get up at 5:30. Good luck with your writing!

Juliemybird said...

Night owl who often dreams of being a lark. :)

Iain said...

I'm neither. I struggle to string a sentence together in the mornings. There's no way I could actually write anything.
In the evenings, all the ideas that were buzzing around my head have gone off to play somewhere else.
I find that I have to write during the day (lunchtime, and on my way home) if it's to make any sense.

i'm erin. said...

I know you can't be talking about me. snort. Personally I think early morning writers are on crack.

E.R. King said...

Both! I write when I can, whenever the mood strikes me. I guess that'd make me a Night Lark. Ha!

Angela Cothran said...

Night Owl for sure. My brain is at it's peak around 9 p.m. I've been like that since I was a toddler. My parents would go to bed, turn out the lights and hope I would go to sleep sometimes.

I actually credit my "owlness" for my love of books. Once I learned to read I would stay up all night reading.

The Golden Eagle said...

Lark, definitely. :) Though sometimes I seem of two minds and end up staying up way too late for the hour I usually get up . . . LOL.

David Powers King said...

I personally work much better at night. Seems like that's when all the good shows are one, and the kids are asleep. And there's not being at work. That's a plus! :)

Wanton Redhead Writing said...

I am lark, hear me sing.

Glad to find your blog.

Red Boot Pearl said...

Night owl, hoot... except I really, really want to be a lark, I know my brain works better in the morning, I need to work on the discipline factor.

Mara Rae said...

I'm neither, unfortunately. I get tired early and hate waking up early, too. I write during the middle of the day when my son is napping for three glorious hours (I also work out and do house work during that time, so it's not ALL writing time, unfortunately), and that seems to work out pretty well. When I'm really trying to fit in extra writing hours, I would rather stay up then get up early. Fortunately my son is just like his mama - loves to sleep as much as possible. He goes to bed at 7:30, and I still get my extra writing time and can go to bed by 10. :)

Lan said...

I'm an owl when it comes to ideas and a lark when it comes to writing. Too bad I'm tired at both these times and would prefer to be sleeping!! Can I add a worker bee in the mix because I write really well at lunchtime during my work break :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Ciara-- I'm right there with you. Don't you wish you were one of those people who only needed five hours of sleep a night? It'd be heaven, I tell you.

Juliemybird-- Hehe. Is that because you really are a lark?

Iain-- The part where you said that your ideas went off to play made me laugh!

Erin-- The girl Peggy seems to recall that her conference roommate's name started with an E...

E.R.-- Night Lark! I love it!

Angela-- Your poor parents! Awesome, though, that your peak time is at 9pm. I think I would love that.

Eagle-- I do that ALL the time! It's probably not the most effective way to work, come to think of it.

David-- Yes, being home from work does tend to help. :) As does kids being asleep. I don't quite get, though, how the good shows being on HELPS...

Wonton-- Hehe! I hear you! I'm glad you found my blog, too. :) Welcome!

Pearl-- Hahaha! Yep. Discipline factor gets night owls that should be larks every time. Not that I speak from experience or anything...

Mara-- So nice to have a good sleeper! I think middle of the day works great, too. It's what I'd prefer, actually.

Lan-- Oh, wow! I hadn't even thought about it being split like that! LOVE the worker bee analogy.

Julie Musil said...

Ahhh, definitely a lark! I turn into a pumpkin at 10 pm. But I live in the boonies and owls fly around here all the time. They're so cool!

Paul Tobin said...

I am a lark, or as I say a morning person. i get my best work done when the house is quiet after tai chi. I tend to get ideas for poems either as I make the first cup of tea or ideas pop into my head as I do tai chi. Ideas come at other times but there is something in the stillness of the house and the calmness of the world that elicits ideas.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Great post! And I am a total lark - no question about it!

BECKY said...

Hey Peggy! I can't believe I missed this post! I am a night owl. I cannot write in the mornings, except e-mails, blogging, etc. There's no "definite" time, though. I can be writing at midnight, or at 3:00am.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm both as well. I used to stay up later, but since my son started school, for some reason I get up earlier. Is that weird? Yes. Yes it is. :)

Susan Kane said...

I am definitely a lark. I do keep a notebook by the bed, ready for those brilliant ideas that occur just after the light goes out.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Julie-- How cool to have owls flying around! I would love that!

Paul-- That sounds like such a peaceful way to get ideas! Much more peaceful than my way of constantly beating on the reinforced steel wall in my brain behind which all ideas lie.

Susanna-- Sounds like it suits you!

Becky-- That's amazing! And so the very opposite of me.

Chantele-- It's good to be weird! You know... as long as it works. ;)

Susan-- Such a great idea! I always THINK I'm going to remember...

Anonymous said...

;)! Now that was the Boom!!!!