Write It Sideways

How To Write A Novel In the Middle Of The Night

Six weeks ago, I had a baby.

Three weeks ago, I committed to finishing my novel.

Crazy? Perhaps. Genius? Absolutely.

The Most Productive Year of Your Life

In addition to writing a novel, I write 2-3 articles here each week, freelance for 2 other sites, plus promote my blog through guest posts.

That’s a lot of writing when you’ve got a baby to look after.

Nevertheless, this year will be the most productive year of my writing life because:

  1. A newborn baby is the best reason in the world to be anti-social. I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything I don’t want to. When people come to the door unexpectedly, I can answer in my pajamas and they will look sheepish and go away. Neglecting to brush my teeth is also helpful.
  2. I can pretend I have no time for totally unnecessary tasks. Laundry and cooking aren’t as important as they might seem. They’ll get done sooner or later. How can I be expected to keep the house in order when I have a newborn??
  3. I don’t have to go to work. Yes, the sweet, sweet knowledge that I can completely ignore my job for the next 12 months–now that’s motivating.
  4. I spend 50% of the day feeding my baby. Literally. It’s a very demanding schedule, which confines me to the couch. Good thing I have a laptop.
  5. I’m up most of the night. This might not last forever, but for now I’m a creature of the night. Why not use it to my advantage? I mean, what else am I going to do at 3 am?

How to Write a Novel in the Middle of the Night

I find I’m most productive writing fiction when the house is quiet and I have fewer distractions. That said, I more comfortable working on non-fiction articles during the day.

For your reference, here’s a breakdown of how I’ve been accomplishing all that late-night writing:

11:00 pm – 12:30 am Sleep.

12:30 am – 1:30 am Wake up. Splash water on face. Change screaming baby’s diaper. Feed baby using hands-free method. Work on novel.

1:30 am – 2:00 am Try to fall asleep while mentally planning next scene. Employ warm milk if necessary.

2:00 am – 3:00 am Actually sleep.

3:00 am – 4:00 am Wake to screaming baby who has soaked through clothes, blanket and mattress cover. Change baby. Feed baby. Work on novel.

4:00 – 5:00 am Sleep (well, nap).

5:00 am – 6:00 am Wake with amazing idea for next scene. Quickly change baby. Twice. Feed baby. Work on fabulous scene idea.

6:00 am – 7:00 am Baby asleep. Rest of family asleep. Rejoice! Make extra-jumbo cup of coffee. Continue writing!

7:00 am Family wakes up. Look haggard. Complain about being up all night. Accept all offers to watch baby while I nap.

No matter how much you want to write, or how much time you think you really have–life happens.

Still, there’s no reason to sit back and accept your circumstances as fatal.

How do you get around time constraints on your writing? How will you make this the most productive year of your life?