When Do You Get Your Creative Energy?

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More and more I’m realizing what it means to be a morning person. I’ve been retired for over two years and have all my time free. Yet, I’ve discovered if I’m not creative before noon, I should switch from output mode to input mode. After lunch I can socialize, read, listening to music, watch TV, cook, exercise, clean house, but I can’t write or program. I can study in the afternoons and evenings, but I don’t know how effective it is.

Yesterday I was flowing with creative ideas, and poured out words before 9am, but I had to go to the grocery story before it got busy. Even getting back by 11am, I realized nothing was coming out of the idea faucet. It felt so freaking strange to be so full of ideas that morning and sixty minutes later feel so completely empty. My brain felt dark. Sometimes I can take a nap after lunch, and I’ll start thinking of things to write, but I can’t make my body sit at the keyboard and type.


My mind turns on around 5am, but coziness keeps me in my sleeping chair until 6:30 or 7:00. Often I’ll write for an hour or so before showering and exercising, and then eat breakfast at 10 or 10:30. What’s so damn cliché, is showering turns on my idea faucet full blast. I can usually keep working for another hour or two after breakfast, but that’s it. My thoughts slow down to a drip drip drip. No recourse but to eat lunch.

I’ve wondered if eating calms the mind? I’ve read our body goes through daily chemical cycles, and evidently there’s a stage in my chemical processes that stimulate ideas. At other times during the day I can get ideas, and the faucet might speed up to a dribble, but my body is filled with inertia. I wish it was healthy and legal to do artificial stimulants. It’s also cliché how many writers used drugs to stimulate their muses.

I’ve recently read a couple biographies of Philip K. Dick, and he’d write like a maniac all night long. He was also crazy, and he did a lot of speed. Being a night person has its drawbacks, because if you have mental problems, staying up all hours only inflames them. I’m a calm and happy person. Are other morning people that way too? I’ve always wondered if I wasn’t a productive creative person because I’m too even keeled. Elizabeth Gilbert in her new book claims it is possible to be well adjusted and creative, but I’m not sure how many people are.

By the way, I never hear about afternoon people. Are there swing shift creative people?


8 thoughts on “When Do You Get Your Creative Energy?”

  1. LOL! I’ve been retired going on 4 years and some things don’t change – with me, anyway. I’m a morning person but my creative juices don’t get flowing until I’ve been up awhile – had a couple cups of coffee, read a few emails, talked to my mom, done my pills and blood pressure, stretched or walked, – whatever – it takes a couple or three hours. Then I’m “creative” (focused, I like to call it) for a couple or three hours – until 11 or so. That’s when I go to the store, eat, walk, cook, etc. And in the afternoon it’s about the same – a couple hours of break at noon there and I’ll go from 1 or so until 3 (?) . Then I cook and eat dinner or visit a friend – I can focus again from about 7 to 10 – bedtime. (And I’m up about 5 or 6 in the morning.) This is a pattern since working days and it just still fits best. Back then I would wake at 5 to get to work by 7:30 because I need to “get organized” mentally and physically both at home and at school. When things are organized I can relax enough to focus.

    For me, getting up at 8 or 9 o’clock doesn’t mean I can jump out of bed creative because that’s my time of day. I still need those first few hours to get my world settled. So if I oversleep it’s 11 or 12 before I’m really started and that messes up my whole life.


    1. It’s funny how we get into these routines as we get older, and if our routine gets jostled it throws us off. Every night when I tuck myself into my chair will all my pillows to help my back and legs, it feels like I’m resetting the clock. Life seems so cyclic. It always reminds me of the Bob Dylan song, “I’ll Keep it with Mine.” The last part about the train.

      You will search, babe
      At any cost
      But how long, babe
      Can you search for what’s not lost?
      Everybody will help you
      Some people are very kind
      But if I can save you any time
      Come on, give it to me
      I’ll keep it with mine

      I can’t help it
      If you might think I’m odd
      If I say I’m not loving you for what you are
      But for what you’re not
      Everybody will help you
      Discover what you set out to find
      But if I can save you any time
      Come on, give it to me
      I’ll keep it with mine

      The train leaves
      At half past ten
      But it’ll be back tomorrow
      Same time again
      The conductor he’s weary
      He’s still stuck on the line
      But if I can save you any time
      Come on, give it to me
      I’ll keep it with mine

      Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/ill-keep-it-mine

  2. Great blog. I think you need to be slightly ” off beam” to be creative and sadly the more ” off beam” the more creative people seem to be. Normal is as normal does…
    I think everyone who is creative is more interesting… Vive la difference

    1. I suppose I have a certain strangeness that’s unique to me. But I’m probably like Don Tillman in The Rosie Project and don’t even recognize my own strangeness, thinking I’m the normal one.

      1. well I have read that book and I still don’t know what to make of it. There was much debate wasn’t there about whether it was ” correct” to write such a book. Saying that, he probably would succeed in relationships where many other
        ” perceived normal” people would not. I think we are all strange…and that is what makes all humans so fascinating.
        So strange is the new normal???

        1. Right after I read The Rosie Project I watched the documentary Autism in Love, and it was a real eye opener. The Rosie Project is a big hit. I saw it on the Staff Favorites shelf at my bookstore Sunday. And I’ve had friends recommend it to me. It’s a very fun read. But, Don is obviously autistic, but he’s not really accurately portrayed either. The documentary was gut wrenching, but inspiring too. I saw it, and another short documentary about two other autistic people, seven people in all, and none of them appeared to have the same condition. But I think they all recognized they were different. Which Don didn’t. I think that was a mistake in the book. He was too smart not to.

          1. I am going to think about your reply and respond accordingly
            its food for thought…

            didn’t they write a sequel to rosie project.
            I didn’t read the second one… I wasn’t entirely happy with the first

          2. Yes, there is a sequel. I haven’t read it, but I just went and read about it. The Rosie Effect takes place right after the other book, and concerns Don’s effort to be a good Dad. Some of the Amazon reviewers loved it and said it was as good as the first, and others claimed the story falls off some, but is still good.

            What bothered you the most about the first book?

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