When I was younger, I thought that what made me a writer was that I could stay up into the hours of the morning, cracking out bullshit. I was half-right.
Adhering to a structure has improved my writing and my life, allowing me to be more consistent when it matters. However, the trade off is that I no longer spend those late nights tapping lamely at the keyboard until I hear the birds singing. When I find myself sleepless, I no longer savour it, I just feel frustrated. “Go to sleep, body – don’t ya know you have to be a Real Adult in a few hours?” Of late, I’ve had lots of those nights. The occasional drink has sorted it out, but that way lies trouble so it’s not a long term solution.
Yesterday I decided to indulge my wakeful state rather than trying to clamp it again and something funny happened. I sat down to clean up my reading extract of True Brits for HighTide Festival and found that my focus, creativity and passion all rushed back to me. I was braver in my choices and happier to lose words and lines that were weighing the piece down. Subsequently, I think it’s funnier, leaner and gives a previously ambiguous character a tad more colour.* I sent it off at 4am and slept soundly after that.
It feels like I’ve been needing to do this for a while. Does a structured life blunt your verve?
This isn’t to say I want to throw the imposed 8 to 4 out of the window – I need that around for the grunt work – just that maybe I need to let myself have the occasional late morning if it means I’ll be better at my job.
*The problem with late night splurges is that it’s possible you’ve written utter drivel and don’t realise it. Never send off at 4am, review it when your eyes are somewhat nearer the front of your head.