Carolyn M. Walker

Old Blog of Carolyn M. Walker

Friday, August 7, 2015

Are You a Night Owl or an Early Bird? What's Your Writing Preference?

Night Owl Early Bird WriterDo you prefer to write early in the morning/day or later in the evening? In the past, this question has come up a lot. I  find it really interesting how some folks tend to work early while others prefer the night life. Everyone is different as to when they prefer to write and why. I couldn't help but wonder what caused this.

So my question of the day is this: why do some of us gravitate toward the grand sunrise hours to tap into our creative muse while others prefer to howl at the moon while they pen their great works of art? Read on and see what I've discovered.

It turns out that your sleep patterns are actually genetically predetermined! So if you have family members before you who were early risers or late nighters, you could be taking after them. As we know, most things tend to occur during "normal business hours" (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). So for those who are trying to get things done during these hours, regardless of when they rise from or fall into bed, sleep is going to become a factor.

Not surprisingly, sleep deprivation is a major driving factor in the different ways both early birds and night owls tend to act. Night owls in particular, often experience what is called "social jetlag" because even though they stay up late, they may need to get up relatively early in the morning. I know I do. As a work at home mom, life still calls and believe me, my 9-yr old does not wait.

According to researchers, Early birds tend to be more positive and social, compared to their night owl counterparts who are less optimistic and proactive. Due to fewer pathways in the night owl's brain for feel-good hormones like serotonin or dopamine to pass through, late-nighters tend to be more prone to depression and addiction (yikes). Coffee at 12 a.m. anyone? However, night owls tend to me more creative and have higher cognitive abilities than their early bird counterparts.

In the writing world, this brings forth a very interesting correlation. It would seem that those who get up earlier will be more prone to pounce on their work and will likely drill out more, perhaps quicker than the night owls. On the other hand night owls may have a tendency to produce more creative and cutting edge work than the early birds because who would be crazy enough to stay up late writing anyway, right?

I've been asked the question myself, and I must say I fall into the "night owl" category. The idea of getting up super early and drilling out something even remotely decent is slim to none. For me, I tend to write better in the evening hours. As a night owl, my day seems to be much shorter. I also have the lack of sleep factor to contend with. On the other hand, my sister who is also a writer, is the most devout early bird I have EVER known. We're talking 5 a.m. type early bird. So even though we are sisters, obviously there were both types in our immediate family.

Of course the traits of the early bird and night owl have exceptions, as with nearly everything in life. I'm sure there is a late night writer out there who loathes that "outrageously out of the box" style of creativity, while there is likely an early riser out there who moves at a snail's pace. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it's interesting (and fortunate) that we are each unique to our craft, regardless of WHEN we decided to put pen to the paper or fingers to the keyboard.

additional source: ASAP Science 

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