Weekend Coffee Share – On Being a Vampire-Turtle Hybrid Writer

LeCoffee-1If we were having coffee, I’d meet up with you in the afternoon. This is unusual since I’ve always scheduled our coffee dates in the late morning so I can spend the afternoon/evening with my WIP because that’s when I write best. But do I really? I’ve been pondering that this week as I experiment with my writing schedule. Instead of running errands, replying to emails and managing Twitter in the mornings, I go straight to work writing.

So how did it go? you ask, with a hint of both skepticism and hope in your voice. You know I have never been a morning person. The rising sun actually makes me grumpy, whereas the setting sun perks me right up. Not for the first time, we both wonder if I’m part vampire. But as a morning person, you believe the crack of dawn is the best time to write. You get so much done before lunch! The feeling of accomplishment is amazing! I envy that. And that’s the reason I’m conducting this experiment – to try to get more writing done.

I never thought of myself as a slow writer, at least not when I’m hired as a freelancer and have a deadline that puts a fire under my butt. I can crank out those words when need be. But a novel is different. There’s no boss to give me direction and feedback, and that leaves me spinning my wheels sometimes as I try all by my lonesome to decide on the best way to tell my story. I attempted to push past that indecision and doubt and just write on, write fast, and that DID NOT work. I ended up scrapping everything I wrote in those moments. The takeaway? It’s not the writing I need to speed up, it’s the story development. So, maybe if I start thinking about my story earlier in the day, the breakthroughs will come sooner than midnight. Makes sense, right?

You agree it does. So have I been converted to the #5amwritersclub? I laugh so hard I spill my tea. 5am – as if! I’m part vampire. “Morning” to me is, like, 9am and not a minute earlier. Okay, fine, how’s 9am working? I admit for novel writing, it’s still very slow. My brain is seriously sluggish in the morning, even after drinking a whole pot of the blackest tea. It feels just like this moment in Orphan Black when Scott asks Rachel if she can go faster and she replies:


One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that I can write blog posts and freelance jobs at a decent clip in the morning — as long as I’ve planned them out the night before. This strategy doesn’t work as well with the WIP, but it helps a bit. What’s clear is that no matter how I try to trick my brain into writing in the morning, it simply operates best in the evening.

Basically, I’m a vampire-turtle hybrid writer.

Instead of crying into my tea, I’ve decided to capitalize on this by always brainstorming before bed what to write the next day. As I said, this works well for blog posts and paid scripts, but not so well for the WIP. If it’s a WIP day and things are not moving, I’ll read a book so I don’t waste time staring at the computer screen. Usually reading unsticks the brain anyway. And it’s productive.

You sip your tea and smile knowingly. You still think if I keep at it long enough I’ll become a true morning writer. But I know this will never happen. Instead, with some pre-bedtime planning and practice, I hope to at least become a vampire-hare hybrid.



If We Were Having Coffee is a blog hop inspired and run by the lovely and talented Diana at Part Time Monster. Please drop by her place for coffee. You can also see what other bloggers are up to by checking out the hashtag #WeekendCoffeeShare on Twitter.

Author: Heather Jackson

Heather is a freelance screenwriter, game writer, and novelist based in Toronto. For more, visit her website at heatherjacksonwrites.com or follow her on Twitter @HeatherJacksonW

30 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share – On Being a Vampire-Turtle Hybrid Writer”

  1. 9am is morning? I didn’t know 9am existed. Morning for me is more like 10-10:30am. I support your disbelief at 5am. After talking with another nightowl, I no longer apologize for being what I am: not a morning person. Exercise at 11pm? Yep! Sleep until noon = not a waste of a day? Yep! As long as you start your [whatever time] day with productivity–whatever that means to you–then you’re a success. And if you choose not to, success at recognizing when you need to take a break

    Vampires have long been shunned. “You must get up an hour early to fit in exercise.” (Nobody offers tips for evening folks.) “You must get up before dawn to properly do your Morning Pages.” (Why can’t Morning Pages be whenever *your* morning begins, or even Dusk Pages?) “Enjoy sunrises.” (Sunrises are overrated, too blinding; the breath of a sunset is stunning to everyone, a treat morning people don’t see.)

    Afternoon naps are fabulous. We all learned that in kindergarten. Early eve naps are just as supercalifragilicious!

    Never, ever apologize, fellow vampiress. 🙂

  2. No matter how much I try to reinvent myself, I remain most motivated by the “fire under my butt” that you mentioned. It’s funny how a deadline can turn up my productivity levels with a ferocity, no matter the time of day! Because of this, I’m always fabricating deadlines with fiction work. It’s the only way I make progress, especially since fiction is not (yet) my full time work.

    1. Deadlines help so much! However, my brain is not fooled by me setting my own deadlines. I need an outside deadline, like a conference or workshop or grant application to light that fire. Sigh.

  3. With my current job my body clock is all over the place. I’m on early all this week so I have to be at work for 7am. I’m tempted to get up that little bit earlier and join the 5 am club. Didn’t know it was an actual thing before now.
    Looking forward to having peace and quiet to write tomorrow morning. (if only for a little bit)

  4. I used to write early in the morning because that was when the house was the quietest so I would get up about an hour or so earlier than I needed to so that I could write. Now the house is quiet all the time so I can write anytime unless I am babysitting (which is more often than not). I prefer to write before the evening because that’s when I want to just tune out and wind down.

  5. I think it’s cool that you are experimenting with your writing rituals and tending to your own needs. Good luck with your WIP, sounds like its progressing well 😀 Funny you should mention #5amwritersclub as I just learned about it last week. I do wake up around 5am because as long as my Muse is half asleep she tends to be fairly productive.

    Take care and it was wonderful catching up with you!

  6. Vampire-hare hybrid, too funny! I get up real early, between 3-4 a.m. and always start my day with a good book. This “gets me in the mood”, you could say, then I’m off and running. Well, typing. But once mid-afternoon hits, and I’ve been up for 12 hours, my motor winds down. I’m junk. So I usually go for a walk or return to my book with hooded eyelids. After about an hour, I pop back up. Sadly, that only lasts for a few hours because the night belongs to my husband. I guess you could say I’m a morning/late afternoon/early evening mongrel. LOL As long as we get words on the page we’re doing something right, eh?

    1. Oops. See what I mean? Typo! That should be: morning/EARLY afternoon and evening mongrel.That’ll teach me for trying to get in a quick comment while my husband’s in the shower. 🙂

  7. I’m also a vampire type. On work mornings, while I sip my coffee, I simply check social media and and reply to comments on my blog. I’m not into reading or writing at that point. Now, on Saturday’s and Sundays when I can sleep in some, I’ll read, write, comment, etc. while I coffee. During the week writing and reading and commenting is night time activity.
    #WeekendCoffeeShare at Life & Faith in Caneyhead.

  8. I must also be a hybrid – an early bird but not too early, then a sundowner .In between, everything else . Bot oh those morning appointments, meetings etc really mess up my day!

  9. I always find that I write better in the afternoon. It breaks up my day, and I don’t have to commit to either an early morning or a late night. If I have to choose one or the other, though, it’s late night. I don’t do well in the mornings—I’m grumpy and forgetful, and that just is what it is. lol

  10. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Rachel / Scott image from Orphan Black. That bit of last weekend’s episode cracked me up. XD

    Figuring out what time of day you work best as a writer is always a challenge. I played around with it when I started getting serious with my novel. Basically, I’m the opposite of you, Heather. *lol* I prefer mornings and afternoons, though I can write in the evenings if I wanted to. It’s just that nighttime novel-writing often winds me up. Even if I stop at 9 pm, I won’t go to sleep till midnight because my brain’s too wired!

    The point is, you’re experimenting and trying to figuring what’s ideal for you. And that’s a good thing. And if it means you’re a vampire-hare hybrid, then there you go. 🙂

    1. Another ORPHAN BLACK fan – yay! I love that show so hard. I really enjoyed the most recent episode; it’s my favourite so far this season.

      That’s interesting that writing winds you up so you can’t sleep. I am the opposite – when I write before bed I seem to be able to figure things out better and that relaxes me enough to sleep. Basically, if I’m having trouble sleeping, I write something. 😉

      Thanks for the kind cheerleading! I’m hoping to upgrade from turtle to hare soon!

  11. I’m aiming for the vampire-hare hybrid too. I’m not a morning writer either. I’m a dead of the night writer, when all are asleep except my imagination! But I’d cheer you on anyway, and hope you achieve your goals because I’d love to be at my desk by 9am and ready to pound out those words! I had to get up for a job and leave the house at 9am this morning and my braining was screaming…but it’s SATURDAY. I managed to wave my arms about quite productively after a strong cup of coffee, and now I’m at my desk and raring to go 😀

  12. Hmmm. Is the experiment over? Sounds like if you’re not a morning person then the routine you had in place may have been working better. 🙂 Getting ideas together before bed is a good idea.
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. The experiment isn’t over yet. I may never be a morning person, but I still want to be more efficient during the AM hours. It’s a constant mission to optimize my habits! 🙂

  13. Nobody is a morning person. Not really. Some of us get up at 5am or 4am to write because we figured out there are NO distractions at that time. No kids, no news, no internet. I don’t open email, I don’t check my Twitter feed.

    None of it, until…

    Until I write what I want to write.

    Maybe that’s 3 hours, maybe that’s 10 minutes. It’s my call.

    And when my beloved spouse groans and tells me she can’t believe she married a morning person, I smile and go to my writing place and churn it out, knowing that I’d rather be sleeping late, too, but the novel ain’t gonna write itself.

    When I go to bed that night, it’s like Christmas morning is waiting for me the next day, just at 5am. And somehow, if I don’t check Twitter a 5th time, I don’t miss it. I’ll take Christmas. And some blissful, uninterrupted hours of writing.

    1. Hello 5am club member! Though I don’t get up at that time, I do think I should follow your example re: not checking email/Twitter/etc until I have written SOMETHING. Because I still check that stuff, even if it’s just for half an hour. I wonder what would happen if I got up and just started writing and nothing else?

We love comments and questions.

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