1. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    "That's what you wake up for every day at 3 in the morning."

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tea@3, May 7, 2016.

    I've heard many times that we all should "set goals that make you want to jump out of bed at 6 AM"

    Well, what about THREE AM?

    Does your writing inspire you that much?

    OR, maybe I should say, does being a writer inspire you that much? (inspire/excite)


    I was just (minutes ago, literally) watching a news story about the Kentucky Derby and they were interviewing a trainer and the reporter asked, "How does it feel to be training for the Kentucky Derby?" The trainer responded, "It feels great. It's what gets you up at three in the morning."

    This rang a bell with me.

    It took me back to my early days of writing, when my excitement was off the charts and everything was fascinating, anything seemed possible, and just being involved in the process DID get me up at 3AM.

    I remember writing through the night, making charts, plotting, leaving my desk for 2AM walks around the neighborhood in between sessions, then returning to the keyboard until time to shower and drive to work that morning. That phase was so exciting. (question: should that phase ever end?)

    Maybe there's some delusion of grandeur in every new writer, or perhaps naivety, but in any case I still look back fondly on those early days. (ah, I'm rambling. Get to the point!)

    Okay, here's my question:

    Is your writing 'big enough' to get you up at 3AM ?


    (And, if not, shouldn't it be?)


    Do we need that, as the juice that pushes us forward?

    Or, is writing more 'matter of fact' for you... just churning out pages without highs and lows?

    This post definitely falls into the 'why' category, and not the how or where or when or what. But I happen to think the 'why' pushes the other four, informing how you set up your routines, methods, even maybe how you choose your topics/content.

    Anybody want to jump in here?


    Me, I definitely miss the old 3AM days. I want to get them back. I think each day should be as exciting as that horse trainer indicated in the interview. Just think about what that would add to your life!


    :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader: :cheerleader:
     
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  2. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Inspiration may hit at 3am followed by motivation but when the body is weak the mind doesn't always win out. I have jotted ideas down in the middle of the night before but if I ever had a real burst of inspiration in the middle of the night, one that prevented me from drifting back to dream land, I would jump up and get to work.
     
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  3. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Absolutely not. Nothing gets me up before noon except work and that's only because I'm on the breadline.
    I definitely have days where I can write and write for hours and hours, but just like the deification of 'writing EVERY day', I think the idea that you should be so driven is harmful to many.

    If you can sustain that level of excitement, good for you, but any implication that not doing so makes one somehow less of a writer is a bad thing.
     
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  4. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    This gives me the impression that you are talking about being faithful to a WIP. I'm horrible at that. I'm always working on a million things at once, and since I'm not a woman I cannot cope.

    But for me writing is not really about forcefully motivating yourself to work on something. It is more like something that is naturally "big" to you regardless of your routine. I may not necessarily wake up at 3 to work on a poem, or short story, or whatever. But I will always feel like writing something, even if that means keeping a diary and trying to make my boring routine sound as exciting as possible. And if I do have an amazing idea that bugs my head, trust me, it will be my #1 priority to write it down.
     
  5. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    @Mocheo Timo It fascinates me how things can hit people in totally different ways. What I mean is, I'm always curious how we take away different meanings from the same item. I think you took my OP in a way I didn't intend.

    No, locking in on a WIP wasn't my meaning, though maybe I unintentionally conveyed that. What I meant to refer to wasn't a particular routine, like set schedule or something, but simply the DRIVE (adrenaline, whatever) that keeps excitement at a pitch level a majority of the time. Those nights I referred to about writing through the night then showering to head to work, were by NO means scheduled, or regular. I think I'd keel over if I tried to have a 3AM session every day.

    And I'm not AT ALL talking about forcefully motivating myself to do anything. To me that implies using will to make one do something they don't feel very strongly about. No, what I am referring to is when you FEEL the buzz, so to speak, then it becomes easy to do hard things, such as write through the night without realizing it you just gave up a night's sleep. ;)

    I don't think forcing it is what the horse trainer meant either, though maybe he did since I guess his work must by definition be very scheduled, due to the responsibilities and needs of the horse and the fact he can't take a chance on dropping the ball one time. Still, he was mega motivated.

    I'm talking about a time (for me) when the juice was flowing so hard and constant that my interest level was very high, hence motivating enough to keep me up way past bedtime working on a story. (translation: a story you necessarily feel is THAT important, or else you'd never go to those extreme lengths to write it)

    I dunno, I just liked the 'up at 3AM' comment, and it reminded me of when I was jazzed all day every day about my stories. I want that back.
     
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  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    No. Considering I am lucky to get to bed by 3am why the hell would I be writing then? I think my days are long enough without pulling a 24hr day or two. But good for you that you can strive to rise and write. Some of us would like to get at least 5-6 hrs of sleep in a 24hr period. :p
     
  7. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I'm starting to think I didn't explain myself very well here.
     
  8. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    I think you explained yourself fine.
     
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  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The lifestyle you propose is impossible to sustain if you want to actually perform half adequately in your job, and even more so if you happen to have a spouse and children. Life is not about writing, and certainly not just about writing.

    As for your question: if writing isn't exciting enough to get you out of bed at 3am, shouldn't it be?

    My answer: Why on earth should it be??

    People talk like you are only a writer or can only be a writer if it's something you live and breathe and it's as crucial to you as oxygen - all just an artist's romantic, fanciful thinking. Writing is an art, a very exciting, enjoyable art form. It is fun, and it can be emotional. It is relaxing and a form of self-expression. It can be used to discuss many things and offer up precious new perspectives and insights. But why should I be so excited about it that it gets me up at 3am? It is good if you are, and good if you're not. Why should I be that way, though? Are you not a writer if it's not the case? Can you not write well if that's not the case? And what if you're just not a night owl? Can they never be serious writers because they need sleep at a decent hour?

    My baby wakes me up at 3am and I can't say I'm enthusiastic about that either. My daughter. Writing pales in comparison in importance to her, and still, no, I certainly would not get up at 3am for her if I didn't have to!

    So, for writing? Now, I can stay up till 3am writing. But wake up at 3am for it? No thanks. Not a chance.
     
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  10. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Uhm.. my alarm is actually set to 4am for writing before I have to go to work :D

    To forestall some comments: I perform well in my job. I get enough sleep (just have to go to bed earlier than I used to). And if I don't feel to, then I just turn over again and sleep the next three hours as well.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
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  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This clarification makes more sense. Anyway I get the drive thing - I collaborated on a novel and together we wrote 100,000 words within the space of 5 weeks. I'd check Facebook the moment I can to see if my co-author has written the next chapter or sent back my chapter with her comments. We'd chat about the next events in the book and then we took turns to write. I did stay up till 5am, 6am writing within those 5 weeks, and it was all I could think or talk about.

    It feels like a drug, an emotional high, and it's so much fun. However, I also remember by the end - the very final week - my husband said to me, "It feels like you're not here anymore." He hated to hear about my story then. He's always been supportive and could listen to me talk about my books for ages, but it got to the point where he hated it. Not because he hated me writing, and not because he doesn't think it's a worthwhile pursuit. It was that he felt like I was gone. I didn't care about anything, not even him anymore, and write was all I could do.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too. The occasional buzz for writing is of course good and natural, but as a constant thing? I'm not so sure, unless it's all you ever want in life. That's not the case with me. I'd give up writing to keep my marriage - not that I should ever have to make that choice, but I would. So I think you need a balance.
     
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  12. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    I see it. It's more like you're so hyped about writing that you wake up in the middle of the night only to do it. It goes around more with being passionate than organized. You're not making goals so that you can cram a WIP and write a lot simply because you have to. It's more like you are so passionate about your writing that it inspires you to do something that many would be discouraged to do (like waking up at 3AM ). It also goes with how much you value what you do. I agree that giving value to our work is essential. I apologize if I'd failed to get that at first.

    Also, it's a bit funny that your name is Tea@3 and you started a thread about writing@3...
    Sorry for that, but I felt I needed to mention it ;)
     
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  13. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Circadian rhythm is partly determined by genetics. In fact, it was the first behavior used to prove that behaviors in general can be determined by genetics. If you mess with certain genes in fruit flies they can be messed up into a 20 hour, 28 hour, or a completely broken cycle. Also, light regulates it directly in flies though in humans there's a skull in the way so it's not quite that simple though it still does play a part. So I don't know, I can be passionate enough to stay up a full night without sleep but once I am asleep there's nothing that can get be out of bed before I've had six hours. If I do get up in that time period I just won't be able to function above 20% capacity then the next night its increasingly hard to cut corners on sleep. I can just skip a night every weekend though and not feel too bad. I guess my point is that sleep is different for different people and just because someone can't physically get up every day at 3 am and be productive doesn't mean they have a lack of passion. As long as they put in the time at some point they are fine.

    Here's a picture of what I'm talking about. If any one of those things is slightly altered by even a single changed dna base in the right place, then someone's sleep habits could be completely different. So I don't really see how drive to do something is the biggest factor in this.
    [​IMG]
    It would be interesting to figure out how many people with sleep disorders have them due to psychological reasons and how many have something slightly wrong with this pathway. Some of the intermediates aren't even really known between cyc and pdf.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
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  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    To answer the question: No way! Sleeping means much to me as well, and even though even I've had a phase when writing was all I was living for, now it's turned into the phase where it's a part of my life, like sleeping, eating and working. It's like pretending that that initial phase of infatuation you experience when you first fall in love should last forever. It doesn't. Eventually it evolves (yes) to something more profound and realistic. I don't see that as something negative or less serious, but perfectly normal. I also don't believe that a lot of those writers who actually live off their writing feel that way after 3 or 5 or 10 books. It becomes a job, but you can still be passionate about what you do without sacrificing everything else, including food and sleep.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I totally know what you mean, OP - when I started writing it was like that for me, too! The story CONSUMED me. I think my performance at work actually DID suffer a little, because I had trouble concentrating on anything else, was stealing moments to work on my story in my office instead of doing my actual job, WAS waking up at 3am, not to an alarm, but because I was so excited to get writing.

    It was incredibly fun. And the books I wrote back then are still among my most popular. My later books have had more craft, more polish, but they seem to be missing that raw passion and love for the characters and the story and the world.

    But for me, at least, it wasn't sustainable. I still enjoy writing, overall, but it's not nearly as exciting as it was back then. Sigh.
     
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  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I just took a week off work so I could live owl hours and finish my current novel. Every weekend I stay up til 5am writing and sleep til 1pm.

    But I can't do it on work nights. I leave the house at 6:20am to commute on the motorway, and I'm not driving at 70mph after just a few hours of sleep. It's my day job that keeps a roof over my family's head, not my novel writing.
     
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  17. Solar
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    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Traitor.
     
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  18. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    I think that part of maturing as a writer and generally as a person is learning moderation. I am super excited to get a day that I can just spend writing but I'm not going to set an alarm, I'm not going to vault out of bed if I wake up early, nor am I going to not take an hour or two to wake up and let my drugs kick in before I start doing anything. It's a marathon not a sprint and while there certainly are times I'm chomping at the bit to write a specific scene it's important to have discipline and treat it like I'm writing anything else.

    Treating a day writing like Christmas morning is a mistake I think. Enthusiasm and excitement can only take you so far. If you count on that alone then you'll never finish a book. You'll write a bunch of good scenes then never get the drive to write the less exciting parts. That's why you need to always be working in a process that tempers excitement with self-discipline. You need an approach that works equally well for when your ideas pull you along and when you have to drive yourself to see them through. You should be enthusiastic about writing but you can't let it run away with you. You never want to be apologizing for falling asleep in a meeting because you were up all night writing, no matter how awesome that scene was.

    You are going to have plenty of days to write in. You shouldn't be flogging yourself to death.
     
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  19. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Thank you BayView for wording it better than I could. This ^^ is what I was trying to say up top. And for the record, I never intended to imply the act of setting an alarm at 3AM. I meant it the way BayView said it here. ^^

    As I read back over my top post today I realize maybe I repeated '3AM' too many times, thereby skewing my own point. Because what I really meant was 'general excitement, in ALL its manifestations (such as BayView's 'moments at work' example) but some here took it only as 'do you set the alarm for 3AM'

    The "3AM" point was largely metaphorical, representing the fire, drive, adrenaline of having real passion and commitment. I apologize for repeating '3AM' so much in that OP, because it seems most people reading this thread think I was championing some sort of 'set your alarm for 3AM, or else you're not committed' challenge/philosophy. I wasn't. I was trying to use the 3AM thing as an example of the manifestation of uber passion run amok. :)

    (though, the three AM thing did absolutely happen for me regularly in those years, just like you said, with no alarm but just as a natural outgrowth of my creative brain running 24/7)


    I guess my larger point is, should the passion remain at fever pitch forever, or taper off over time? And I think @BayView gave a great & balanced answer to that. Which is, probably not. I think about the writers I admire, famous authors, and I suppose they are very regimented in their lifestyles too.

    Sigh. I guess I just had a flashback moment when that Kentucky Derby trainer made that comment about the thrill of being involved in an exciting project. It took me back to the days when my writing was over the top, running full speed every day.

    Like my gramma always said, 'you can never go back.' :write:
     
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  20. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Your post should be bronzed. :superagree:
     
  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know what "should" means here because there's no set way to write. But I don't think it's possible for it to remain at fever pitch forever. I also don't think writers who do it because they're burning to let the words flow out are any better at the craft than people who *do* set an alarm and write at set hours each day whether they want to or not.

    It's very rare that I force myself to write when I'm not in the mood (because I don't see the point of doing that) but when I do, I often feel the writing reflects my mood: stilted and dispassionate. Whenever I read it back I'm pleasantly surprised - it reads as good, or sometimes better, than what I produce when I'm falling over myself to type the words. Passion doesn't correlate to quality in my case.
     
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  22. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did this for a while about 20 years ago, but I kept falling asleep at my desk at at work. When my boss's boss came by one day and stuck my desk lamp on my head (and turned it on, I might add) I realized I'd better find a different approach.

    Before I could find one, though, the company imploded and we were all laid off. Then my wife and I moved half-way across the continent and started a web design business and yada-yada-yada... I ended up not writing again for five years.
     
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  23. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Happens to me too :D
     
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  24. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    I agree that there's no set should. And I love what you said about rereading words from 'blah' sessions and liking them.

    You guys' comments have done exactly what I'd hoped they'd do: gel the point for me. For some reason (don't know why) I feel guilty about not maintaining fever pitch 24/7/365 but I think that's on me... a view which *I* need to let go of.

    And maybe my 'feverish expectation' is only there to begin with because I'm a type A so maybe I've inappropiately defined the writing life all these years according to my early 'fever pitch' days.

    Thanks again to all of you for the great replies. :)
     
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  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    This happens with me, too.

    I read a story years ago about a writer (don't remember which one) who was blocked. He was already a couple of weeks past his deadline and hadn't written word one. His editor (who worked for his publisher, I assume) begged, cajoled and threatened, but nothing got the writer out of his doldrums.

    So, the editor did the only thing she could think of. She called him in for a meeting, led him to an empty office and—once he was inside—locked him in. There was a desk with a typewriter, reams and reams of paper, a cot for sleeping and a small table in front of the window where he could eat meals.

    She didn't let him out until he'd finished the novel... and it was no better or worse than anything else he'd ever written.

    Perhaps it's universal. :)
     
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