Vision: A Resource for Writers

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The Musings of a Midnight Writer

By A. G. Weyland
Copyright © 2008 by A. G. Weyland, All Rights Reserved


Most muses work in a similar fashion, ringing the phone in your head off of the hook at the most inconvenient times- at your sister’s wedding, when forcing the dog in the bath, in the middle of an argument with your spouse, and a million other equally inopportune times to throw everything down and grab a pen. And more often than not, by the time your sister’s married, the dog is bathed, and your husband’s done yelling, it is way past your bedtime and the phone won’t stop ringing in your head. The worst part is that the ringtone is a good song, a bad song is easy to ignore, but it’s the Debbie Gibson song you had your first kiss to.

And so you tuck the kids in bed, make sure the dog hasn’t gotten into anything so soon after his bath and you sit in front of the blank computer screen, itching to write until your fingers are numb and the masterpiece developing in your head is readily accessible by an agent dying to make you the next Stephen King. This is how writing works, exactly how it shouldn’t. On your day off you sit in front of the television watching Jerry Springer episodes and beg your muse for inspiration, anything capable of dragging you away from the two girls duking it out on screen. But of course, when you have an entire day to devote to writing, your word count is usually a negative number.

This lack of communication on the part of your beloved muse and your daily life leads to a cycle known as “Midnight Writing”. Midnight Writing does not only apply to writing done at midnight or even to writing done at night. Midnight Writing is writing done when you should be doing other things, usually fairly important things such as sleeping. Yet, when dinner is burning in the oven, the baby’s crying, the dog is scratching at the door to go out, and the phone is ringing, you write scenes so amazing you’re left breathless and shocked and the tasks at hand are ignored for a few moments more whilst you revel in the glory of what you’ve written. And even though Midnight Writing adds moments of genius to your work in progress, it has gotten really good at hindering life as it should be.

Midnight Writing is not a coined term but the definition has been expanded to support a broader definition of the term. Many writers suffer from this and also philosophers, artists, and scientists. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution didn’t come to him while he was sitting at home alone thinking, it came to him in the holds of a ship writing by candlelight and feigning sleep. It is right to assume that this problem has plagued mankind since the dawn of individual thought and has gone unanswered.

There are many possible solutions but only one right answer. You could ignore your muse and make sure dinner doesn’t burn and that the baby doesn’t need to be changed instead of writing furiously. And later, when you have a bit of free-time between Jeopardy and Survivor, you can do your best to re-live the moments of genius you earlier ignored. But chances are the spark that was ignited has gone out and the things you try to say come out all wrong, leaving you with a scene so bland the page reeks of mediocrity. So all in all, when you put your muse on hold, he just hangs up.

Another solution is to try to juggle your daily tasks and writing at the same time. You could try to cook dinner, let the dog out, change the baby, answer the phone, and write a life-altering scene at the same exact time but I’d wager a superhero couldn’t juggle more than two of those tasks, much less with the added life-altering scene. Therefore, task-juggling is obviously not a good option either.

There are a million other things you could do to create a balance between writing, family, and career but in all honesty, there is no miracle solution to Midnight Writing and there never will be. Being a writer means sacrificing more than sleep and a non-charred chicken. Being a writer means sacrificing your sanity for a few minutes or a few hours a day to listen to your muse and write the scene you’re dying to write. If writing was easy no one would stand a chance at getting published because every Tom, Dick, and Harry would be submitting right alongside you. So in short, when you can reasonably afford it, do not ignore your muse- answer Debbie Gibson ringing inside of your head and write a masterpiece.