We’ve written before about the destructive effects of writer’s block and provided a handful of ways to get out of it, but is it possible to avoid it altogether? A 2019 study conducted by MPA suggests that maybe it is, you just have to know when your creativity sparks.
If you’re anything like me, there are times when the perfect words flow through you effortlessly and writing ten pages per hour feels like a breeze. Unfortunately for my early morning to-do list, that’s around nine o’clock at night or later. Other times, usually in the mornings, it feels like pulling teeth to get even fifty words down on a piece of paper. According to the MPA study, that’s because moments of creativity can actually vary based on who you are and what you do.
Researchers in this case found that journalists were most creative just before ten in the morning, artists around 11:45am, and doctors at about noon. While there was variance in each industry sample, the general consensus was that individuals found themselves most creative during late morning.
Human energy cycles run on circadian rhythm, meaning we’re usually most energized when the sun is up and our energy levels drop when the sun goes down. This is one of the reasons we have the nine-to-five workday, but creativity doesn’t necessarily follow that same circadian rhythm. Writers like Robert Frost, Charles Dickens, and H.P. Lovecraft, to name a few, wrote best in the darkness of night. In the words of Robert Frost, “Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.”
So what is your most creative time of day for writing? Do you even have one? If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a creative rut, it might be worth looking into. Here are a few ways to figure out what time your creativity sparks.
Try writing during different times of day
Give yourself one prompt and try writing it throughout different times of the day. To start, wake up and grab your journal first thing in the morning. Many people find that writing about their dreams before getting out of bed makes for a more creative day. Write during your lunch break, in the evening, or just before bed. Testing out your writing skills and creative abilities at different times could reveal that you’re more focused and better able to complete tasks at a specific time.
If you hit writer’s block, take a break
If you’re finding it difficult to write first thing in the morning, take a break and try picking it back up at a later time. According to psychologist Robert Epstein, stress is known to squander creativity, so if you’re distracted by daily tasks or other deadlines, you may find it a bit more difficult to flow though your writing. Complete the tasks that are occupying your mind before starting a creative writing task. Try the same prompt or assignment an hour or so later, or shift into a nighttime routine. How does your writing change?
Write in a natural setting
If you like to write during the day, try writing in a natural setting. Research by a Washington State University professor concluded that your physical environment can foster greater creativity. Writing outdoors or in a space filled with neutral colors and natural surfaces can actually encourage a more creative mindset. Go to a park or beach during the day and write a page or two to see how environment affects you.
If you’re lucky, your creativity levels don’t depend on what time it is, so just keep writing whenever you feel that spark. Join Opyrus for free and get access to inspirational writing prompts and innovative courses to help perfect your process.