What is the Best Time of Day to Write Poetry?

what-is-the-best-time-of-day-to-write-poetry_When the alarm clock goes off first thing in the morning do you spring into life with your head full of ideas for your next poem; or does it take 20 more minutes under the duvet and three shots of caffeine to get going, with your most productive and creative time being late at night?

Readers of this blog will know I fall into the first category. I rise very early and take my poems out for an early morning walk. My poetic creativity comes to me first thing and I realise, after about 2pm, trying to write or create new poems is futile. Having visited other poet’s blogs, there are some of you who get your inspiration late in the evening / early hours of the morning. So, is there a most effective time of the day to create and write poetry?

Recent research, from the University of Southern California, shows creativity goes further than being a morning or night person and that certain times of day are best for completing specific tasks. The best time of day for productivity is late morning when our brain and bodies have warmed up to get concentration, working memory and alertness to its peak. Alertness begins to dip after this point, but the study shows being fatigued can boost our creative abilities. Great news for those of you who work late into the night.

The research also suggests morning people wake up and go to sleep earlier and tend to be most productive early in the day. Evening people wake up later, start more slowly and peak in the evening. The conclusion of the study hints it is best to listen to your body clock. If you are more productive in the morning stick with it, likewise if your creativity peaks in the evening, keep burning the midnight oil.

This has intrigued me about the creative habits of other poets and writers. Does your best work flow as a morning lark or a midnight owl?

It would be great to hear from you.

54 Comments

Definitely morning for me. Usually very early, but my morning walks along the Thames towpath often bring ideas which I rush home to work on. Evenings – it’s editing, polishing, but, for me, rarely the time for new ideas. I’ll be interested to read what other comments you glean, Davy.

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For me, I could be classed as nocturnal. I sleep after sunrise and wake early afternoon. For me, the early hour are the most thought provoking for me. Perhaps that’s why I struggle to sleep, along with my unearthly working hours. Thanks for the read!

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As a lifelong night owl, I always thought night time. Recently, I discovered this thing called the morning. Early morning, which is a lot like night’s backside. However, its revelation to me has completely changed my writing habits and woken me to appreciate the quiet and solitude of morning without all the day’s business running through my head. In the evening, I want to escape and turn off my mind. The morning has thus become my favorite time. Although, the night owl hasn’t quit and when he wins, I can’t get up and that kind of ruins everything!

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For poetry, it is anytime, anywhere. I truly enjoy being a passenger on a train or sitting in a loud café or bar with a sharpie. Mornings are very serious for me and I can’t help but think about the rest of the day ahead or when I will have to inevitably stop doing what I actually love. Mornings are great for writing admin. tasks like blogs, twitter or cover design. Does anyone else feel this way? In the evenings, I tend to feel free and full of open purpose. This is especially true when everyone else is asleep, my little carve out of the day when no one needs me. If I happen to stay up late and I have pages of writing to show for it, I will gladly suffer the wrath of the alarm clock with an extra cup of coffee and an accomplished smile.

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    Thank you Marc for this interesting insight into your poetry writing process. It is good to read about the differing approaches and styles of poets. I am intrigued by this as much as the poetry they write. I admire the fact you still have the energy and purpose late into the evening. Thank you for taking time out to share this.

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Thanks for opening such an interesting topic for discussion. I’m wondering about your opening poem though? Wealthy? How many poets do you know who are wealthy?

The best time to write a poem seems to me to be a lot like childbirth – when something is ready or wants to be written – it’s time. It is interesting to see all the different ways in which your followers find is the best time to write.

I loved the comment from above “Nights backside” to describe the early morning hours. For me, the best time is usually early morning, 3 a.m. – 6 a.m., as evidenced from the time stamp I usually attach to what I write. I like to write in the dark in a more oral format. I listen to the ticking of the clock on the wall and try and catch a title, a topic or opening line. Once I get a first line I repeat it in my head and then I think about the next line and the direction I want to take the final work. I then repeat the first and second lines and think about the third. After I get eight or ten lines using this process I turn on the light and write what I have down and then close my eyes and keep using the above format until I finish. This works well for me and I think my best works have come using this process.

Late at night works well too, but I often get a “Come To Bed” call. Since I prefer to finish a work in one sitting, mornings work best. The rest of the day I’m always on the lookout for a great hook line, title, idea or topic. A perfect example of being inspired by something or someone else is what I got from DavyD’s post of “KINAADMAN” which turned into my post “I Am Not A Poet”. I have a big debt on my tab with DavyD!

What really interests me more is “How Do You Get A Start On A New Poem”! Thanks again for stirring Things up!!

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    Thank you for this valuable insight Charles. I like the idea of writing in the dark with only the sound of a ticking clock. It reminds me of a music composer writing music to the beat of a metronome. It may be something worth exploring as the steady beat could be linked to creativity and brain activity. Thanks also for the idea for a future blog post. I will give it a stir and see what comes out 🙂

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    Sometimes, I write parts of blog posts in my head right after going to bed. The words just seem to come. The hard part is remembering to jot them down.

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As you probably know, I’m a night owl. Even though I wake and start my day “late”, it takes forever for me to become human with a working brain…so I’m more productive later in the day–and often do best writing in the wee hours 🙂

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I love how you opened up this topic, Davy. When I first started my blog, I eased into becoming a night owl. Unfortunately, my son sensed I was still up and became even more of a night owl than me. I had to put a stop to that, so I’m back to going to bed around midnight or just a bit after. And I tend to write or do social media stuff right up until then.

I write blog posts in my head while doing dishes or cooking. For better or worse, writing or writing activities have taken over my life. It’s thrilling, but my life is certainly out of balance.

I will say this, however. I need a few hours after getting up before I actually write anything. The morning is usually devoted to reading news, from which I gleam many ideas. It’s quite risky for me to even tweet anything. I’m just too out of it!

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    Thank you Laura. There is definitely a link between activity and creativity whether it is walking or dishwashing. I have read somewhere the activity allows you to access the creative part of the brain. I’m opposite to you as I’m normally brain dead by the evening so use the time for reading or listening to music or radio programmes for inspiration. Thank you for taking time out to give this interesting insight into your writing day 🙂

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Well, as I write this, I’m just past the late morning peak, but I do find I always get my best work done from 10:00 am to 1 pm so I fit the description. Years ago, before kids and jobs, I loved to write from midnight to 4 am. How time and entanglements tame us all.

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Hi Davy, physical tiredness does seem to help when I’m writing. Nervous energy makes me restless. Interesting topic. I think it’s more about your state of mind rather than the time of day. It’s about cultivating the right state of mind. What is the right state of mind? I’d say, open, curious, not too serious, enjoying what you do and maintaining focus.

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    A good insight there David and thank you for sharing it. I am going to try experimenting and changing my routine and see what happens. I am interested in the nervous energy aspect. It must take you to parts of the brain that we don’t normally access.

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For me anytime of day or night. Whenever the muse strikes!

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Yes Laura, funny how giving our kids a routine & stability turns our own schedules topsy turvy! Keep up the writing & I thank Davy for a great topic.😉

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Just wanted to let you know that I owe you an “assist” on “The Backside Of The Night” (publishing Thur 2-16-17). The comment from S Francis, above, was the inspiration on this piece. Yours is for hosting a great topic for discussion leading to this poem. See, you are on the right path motivating and inspiring us!!

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i must admit i am the night owl. 🙂 productive at night. special while commuting from work to office. 🙂

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What an interesting notion to contemplate. Hmmmm…. I have NEVER ever thought about when my inspiration hits, or what time of day is most conducive to finding my writer’s voice. Perhaps it is because being a teacher I trained myself to stand up hour after hour with different students entering my classroom at various times of the day. It was my job to inspire and motivate each group to write no matter what number ticked away on the clock. And each group and every session was invariably different and veered in a conflicting direction, because different classes with dissimilar students take on a unique personality of their own. So, while the students sat and wrote, so would I. Often times to the same lesson I did previously that day, but interestingly enough, each time what came forth from my brain was totally different because of the input from the variety of students.
So, to ask me if a particular time of day reflects my best time to write, I think is extremely limiting to a writer. At least it would be for me.
Now that I am retired I can write whenever I want, and I don’t have to schedule it into either my work routine or do it at the end of the day, but I still jot down ideas or hit the keyboard whenever and idea strikes me. And that can be ANY time. An exercise I would give my students would be to bring a notepad with them at all times (or a phone) and jot down images, people, places, to notice that messy kid struggling with a gooey cheese pizza during dinner… just jot down ideas and notice EVERYTHING! Look for sensory images and then to use them to write when they were at a loss for inspiration.
I do the same thing. I could be dreaming and wake up suddenly and jot down my dream on a notepad next to my bed. I could be watching Downton Abbey and Maggie Smith’s character might quip out a rip roaring statement and I’d write it on my phone and then after the episode dash to my laptop to write something she inspired. I can be watching the evening news and get so incensed over Donald Trump that I have to immediately express my feelings and madly write about how much I dislike him before my anger passes.
So, no, I do NOT have a specific time of day that is my writing time. In fact some days I’ve had to cancel plans because while dressing and putting on my make-up I heard something on the news or a song that was playing in the back ground and I had to stop everything and just write. My brain seems to work that way. Perhaps I’ve never been organized enough to set aside a time to sit and write. I need an external stimulus to get me going. I always have.
I personally find my environment around me is my inducement, not the clock. I’m a night person, but I’ve awaken early from a vivid dream and stumbled out of bed groggily feeling my way to my laptop with a lesson plan or a poem, or a vampire novel. It just depends. Ya never know what your’e going to get with me. It’s a surprise every day.
Quite frankly I really never understood how anyone could do it any other way. I think that is why some people say they have writer’s block. I don’t get that. I am either motivated or I’m not. If I am, I write….. If I’m not I don’t think about it because I am focused on something else. (Marching for peace, or taking art classes, volunteering in my grandchildren’s classrooms etc.)
I pretty much blog, write a very, very long opinionated thought on FB, email, or write in my personal journal every single day. There are just so many things happening every time you turn on the TV, your phone, watch the news…. that whenever you do it, THAT s when it’s time to write….. Or… when you are asked a question, like you did. So I feel compelled to answer 🙂 Oh, I just thought about this…in college I was trained as an improvisational actress (along with Stanislavsky’s method acting) so I learned to think and react on my feet at any given time. Maybe that has something to do with it… Who knows. In any event, I what a good question….. Thanks for being my inspiration today!! And now I must get ready to go to a meeting to get more women to run for political office. Happy Writing!!!

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    Lesley. Thank you for the response and the interesting insight to your writing practice. I love that retirement has brought so many varied activities for you and just think how many more chances you will create to write about. I am glad to have provided some inspiration. Have a great weekend and looking forward to speaking again.

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Great conversation. I find I write my best poems when I am actually in bed (or in the shower) and I would like some one to invent a thought recorder so I can actually save them at the time) By the time I get to the pen and paper (or the computer) I find they are not as good as they seemed to be when I first thought them. Which lead me to write this….
I have a back burner in my brain where I put ideas to simmer,
Sometimes they gently cook to a cordon blue thought,
Sometimes they are almost forgotten and burn away,
Leaving a burned out spot,
Or worse they simmer too long on a high heat,
and boil over …
The mess takes a long time to clean up!

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    Thank you for your excellent thoughts geni2017. I can empathise with the thoughts and mess thing. If I leave thoughts in my head for too long carnage also ensues :). Thanks for taking time out to read and comment.

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I wrote a piece recently called “Where It Happens” about my night time writing. But I agree with Lesleykluchin my writing happens when something hits me. I love lazy mornings, now that I have them, and seem a bit more in love with writing “love”, but night brings out the sexy and sultry. I take my writing prompt list and little clipboard case with me wherever I go. I like to sit at parks, sit at a coffee shop, sit at bars. All places give me inspiration. Enjoyed reading your piece and these comments.

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    Thank you Midwest Fantasy. I agree about all places giving inspiration. I think over time my writing habits have changed and they do swing from morning to evenings. Thanks for taking time out to join in the conversation.

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Thanks for the mention in your post sailorpoet. It is greatly appreciated.

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Thank you for the inclusion Mr. S 🙂

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