Losing track of time in the name of progress

Or “I could have slept last night, but I failed to realize I would end up staying awake until 5:30 in the morning to finish a short story”. That certainly makes the chosen title for this post look a lot more concise, doesn’t it?

Last night, having recovered from feeling moderately sick for most of the earlier portions of the day, I decided I needed to accomplish something in terms of my writing goals. Having decided to take a short break from working on A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders (a break I am failing at, as I’m still sort of working on it though I said I would step back for a bit), I focused on giving attention to one of the short story ideas I had recently. I had already started working on Cordelia’s, which was based around the idea of a restaurant that had no menus and served exactly what its guests needed without having to question them, and so that seemed like the right route to follow.

I haven’t pulled an all-nighter in quite some time. I dare say such events haven’t happened since college, but I’m almost too certain I’m wrong in that statement. It’s a mystery. What I do know is that I started by deleting everything I wrote, which is the opposite of making actual progress, and I began anew. Two false starts and a lot of deleted words later, I was well into page four. There was a brief diversion involving last night’s blog post and some live-tweeting of The Bachelor (I detest that show, but it has so much value as a terrible comedy of sorts), and suddenly it was nearly midnight. Conveniently, I had today off and so I figured I would continue to plug away until I got tired.

And then I didn’t get tired until shortly after I finished writing, which was around 5:30 this morning. My internal clock doesn’t typically allow me to sleep later than 9:30 on my best days of sleeping in, so…I can’t exactly say I got my whole eight hours of rest.

Despite having a meeting I need to be at in about an hour, I’m still convinced this is the polar opposite of a bad thing. As it is now, I feel like Cordelia’s turned out to be a tremendous success, far better than I had hoped. I’ll have to wait to see what my wonderful, kind, typically-benevolent proofreading friends will have to say on the subject. Most importantly, it was some of the most fun I’ve had writing since the completion of Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King. It’s also one of the first short stories I’ve completed since summer of last year, which is a bit more embarrassing than it is a positive thing. Oh well.

My questions to other writers and creative types out there: when was your last all-nighter? Was it worth it, or did you end up feeling like you’d have better served yourself by getting more shut-eye? What inspiration struck to lead to such a creative spree?

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2 thoughts on “Losing track of time in the name of progress

  1. My last all-nighter (for writing) was in November during NaNoWriMo; I was very (extremely) behind in my word count, I think I had about 10k when I was supposed to be at 40k, so I stayed up all night (for several nights a week) trying to catch up. The results varied, some nights I should have slept to preserve what little was left of my sanity, others it was totally worth it as I uncovered some major plot point/hole. It was never inspiration that led me to stay up either, it was just the sheer want to succeed, the want to write no matter what that made me lose track of time. For me it’s almost always a conscious decision to stay up unless I’m accidentally up past four (4am is my cut-off point – if I’m still awake I won’t be getting any sleep, even if I wanted to). Progress is a fantastic motivator.

    Do you get tired/grumpy with all-nighters at all? I know some people that don’t cope at all unless they get their 7 (or so) hours, for them it’s not worth it no matter how big the creative streak they’re on is.

    Janna

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