|Cats nap, er...cat naps?|
All in all, I was very aware of diurnal or circadian rhythms from an early age. If there's a genetic component to daily patterns, the odds were good that I would be a morning person, and so it happened. Once I wake up (thank you, hungry cats), my brain starts churning, and I write mental lists of all the things I'm supposed to be doing during the day, and all the things I've put off, and all the things that will need to be done in the next week or month or year. Forget about going back to sleep–it's not happening.
But over the last few years, I've learned more about how my brain works. First and foremost, I know I'm most creative in the morning, so that's when I write (after I've cleared emails and read my favorite blogs and all that stuff). Ideas comes, details click, words flow. I take a short lunch break, then I'm back at it, until...sometime in the afternoon something shuts down. My brain turns to sludge, the flow dries up. Nothing is happening upstairs.
It's like a mini-episode of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Decreased energy and concentration; carbohydrate cravings (those cookies are calling to me); increased sleep (I've started taking naps, which I never used to do). But it's gone the next morning. Maybe I need a new word for it, like ADD (Afternoon Affective Disorder).
Of course, sometimes the outside world doesn't allow me the luxury of slipping into a zombie state. There are edits and copyedits, and they come with deadlines. The publisher wants that manuscript by a fixed date, because there's this whole production queue waiting for it, even if the pub date is still over a year away. As a result, I jealously hoard that precious early-day time, saving it for the new book, the short story, the emails about important details for which I have to communicate coherently to other people. By late afternoon, I read the incoming emails but usually put them aside for more intelligent thought. And I read.
I know there are writers who are reluctant to read other people's work while they're working on something of their own, for fear that their style will be compromised. Not me. There are writers whose work I love, and I dearly wish some of their style would rub off on me, but so far no luck. There are other books that I read and say, I'd never do that. But maybe I need to clear my head of my own words in order to focus on someone else's, because late afternoon is my best reading time. Maybe I'm less analytical then, and more easily drawn into a story.
What about you? When do you work best? When can't you string together a coherent sentence for love or money?