Night Writing

Night Writing

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Chicago is an amazing city. It’s gorgeous and has some of the tallest buildings in North America. But Chicago at night… wow. As a writer, I have trouble trying to find the words to describe it.

As I was strolling around downtown last night, I had a few moments of clarity on the various projects I’ve committed myself to this semester. Sometimes, I forget that something as simple as a walk at night can help me make connections between points A and C in a story or consider a direction in an essay I hadn’t thought of.

And then, I wrote. I wrote 3,000 words when I got home. I wrote the connections between a piece that was lacking something that I hadn’t been able to put my finger on, and walking at night reminded me of the moment I decided to capture in my words and add to a memoir piece I’d been writing all semester.

Finishing the piece, I started thinking back on the process I had writing the entire thing, about 80 pages that I had whittled down to 36 and then expanded to 48. I realized that all of the best writing came from writing at night. But why?

I think that’s when my creative juices are flowing. I straddle a line of sleepiness and caffeinated alertness. I start to see the world a bit differently, with a more dream-like quality and I’m able to make metaphors that stick. I’m an over-writer, and I tend to cut some of the “stuff” that doesn’t need to be in the piece when it’s late at night–I get more to-the-point, I only include figurative language when it’s necessary, and I usually care for my characters more (I don’t know why nighttime makes this happen).

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Nighttime is amazing to me. Colors are muted by the lack of sunlight, and the temperature is always cooler. But, we have these amazing lights in our city that lets us see the buildings and the landscapes and the lake in a different lens, and I think that’s what I do as a writer when I write at night. I see things a bit differently, and I’m able to record it this way.

I try to set aside time at night to write. I write throughout the day, of course, but I want to take hold of those few hours when I feel my quality of writing is better and really use them to the best of my advantage.