When do I write? In the dead of night…


People often ask me: “When do you actually do the writing that you do?”  Good question.

I do my best writing after midnight, in secret, in the dead of night in our darkened bedroom with only the glow from my laptop screen for illumination.   That’s the best thing about laptops—you don’t need to have a light on when you write or read.  It all comes pre-packaged in the laptop.

For me as a writer I need not to see what’s around me or hear what’s going on around me.   Ever since I was a boy I really did my best work at night after everyone had gone to bed.  No interruptions, no one asking me questions, no pups needing to go out, etc.  As a grown man I still do my best work after the old schoolhouse clock has struck midnight.

I am not easily distracted but there is something comforting and reassuring about writing quietly in a darkened room when no one is around to watch me or see me doing the writing.  In the darkness, when I look up from the laptop screen, I can visualize the scenes and characters that I am writing about.  Sounds weird, perhaps even eerie, I know, but it’s true.  In the darkness the words I write come alive and take shape right before my eyes.

So, if I write at night in the wee hours what do I do during the day or earlier evening hours?

I like to sleep late.  Always have.  If I go to bed at 9:00 pm I’ll sleep until noon.  If I go to bed at 6:00 am I’ll sleep until noon.  It’s my internal body clock.  I’m a night owl through and through.  Many years ago I learned that IF I’m going to stay up all night I might as well be productive.  I simply do not function in the morning.  Period.

I say that I “sleep” until noon, but that’s not quite true because I still have to get up every couple hours to let the pups out.  Eight dogs have their own internal and external body clocks and their needs must be met.  Luckily, they are pretty much on my night owl schedule as well.  Or, my vampire schedule.  Thank the bees and trees.

Therefore I sleep in roughly two hour blocks of time, get up, go out, wander around for about fifteen minutes and then crawl back into bed with all the pups.   They know that around noon I “wake up” and things are going to begin to happen.

Hot shower, brush my teeth, make coffee.  Then the pups go for a good long walk in the woods and burn off all their pent up energy from the long night of sleeping.

From about 1:00 pm on we are in the Breakfast Room at Henwoodie or at the kitchen table here at John’s house.  The pups eat a bit, play, tussle, and I do research, read, reply to emails, answer pressing queries from my editors and art directors.  This takes up the entire afternoon pretty much.

The pups eat dinner exactly at 6:00 pm.  I watch the PBS Newshour, have snacks and a Pellegrino mineral water and putter around online—chatting, looking things up, checking to see what friends and family are up to on FaceBook and begin to get ready for a long night in the studio.

I generally draw and paint from around 8:00 pm until 3:00-4:00 am (if I’m not writing).  After spending so many hours at the drawing board I unwind by crawling into bed with another Pellegrino and my laptop and will write for at least an hour or two.

Then sleep.

And that’s my writing schedule pretty much.  Think and read during the day; draw, paint, and write at night.  Darkness is this writer’s best friend.

Quiet.  Quiet is the night.   All things alive mock death by sleeping. Sleeping peacefully through the quiet, quiet night.  And I write in the quiet, quiet night.

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