Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Time Is It?

I usually write every night from around 9 or 10 pm until 2 or 3 am. In part, it’s because it’s the only time of day that isn’t slam-packed busy, in part because it’s the only time it’s actually quiet in my house. It’s a time that’s worked out pretty well for me over the last 7 years.

Except for one teensy problem.

Nighttime is my challenge time.

The lure of snacking time

The snacks fuel my writing time.

In other words, the one time of day that I’m most likely to make rotten eating choices, especially if the story isn’t flowing. You know how that goes, one thing’s stuck, skip to another to feel better. A sort of instant gratification writer therapy. The “uh oh, I wrote myself into a corner. Where do I go from here? Oh wait, what’s that I hear? Is it my stomach growling? I should find food. A break from the computer, a quick snack, I’m sure the answer will come to me.” And the worst part (or best, depending on your pov) is that it actually does work. At least, it does about 30 percent of the time, which is sadly enough to keep me trying it.

Smart thinking tells me to get all the dangerous junk food out of the house. To plot stronger from the beginning so I don’t hit those walls. To resist, or do something else (see last week’s list) when faced with this trigger. And I’m working on it.

But, really, I blame the clock. Nighttime is my weak time. But I’m working on it.

How about you? Is there one particular time of day that’s a bigger challenge for you than others? Is your challenge to stay away from the donut box during early morning meetings? Or do you get the after-lunch munchies that sends you straight for the vending machine or candy stash? Maybe it’s an evening thing? A big bowl of ice cream while watching TV? Or like me, maybe you get middle-of-the-night cravings?


Sally Kilpatrick on February 4, 2010 at 9:01 AM said...

I'm with you. It's 2 or 3 in the afternoon. For some reason, I just go dog tired at that point in the afternoon, and I am most likely to do something stupid like, say, sit on the floor and eat straight from the pot of macaroni and cheese.

I have to really watch myself and make sure that a) I'm eating a small meal every 3 hours and b) that I eat enough protein for lunch.

In your case, I would suggest having healthy things like popcorn or almonds--if you can resist the urge to eat more than a few at a time. I get ravenous when I stay up late which, alas, I can't do any more because my daughter has decided to wake me up at ungodly hours.

Good luck!

Michelle Butler on February 5, 2010 at 10:25 AM said...

I don't really have a specific time of the day that is the most challenging in terms of making wise food decisions. I know that I am challenged when I'm stressed, when I let myself get too hungry, or when I can see/am confronted with lots of tempting choices. I can be really tempted when yummy yet high-calorie food is put out at work for example or at parties, receptions or buffets. Eating out in any form can be a challenge.

Michelle Butler on February 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM said...

I've been thinking a lot about your post, Tawny. Why do you think you're eating at night? For energy (bc you're tired), for soothing/comfort, for a distraction, for hunger? Can you replace the eating with a healthier option?

The fact that the snacking can help you get story ideas seems to me like it'll make it even harder to stop. I have heard in talks about creativity that distracting your mind/body while your unconscious mind works on solving a creative problem can be very effective. This may be what happens when you're snacking. I've heard others say that taking a shower can help. Another lady said ideas come to her when she washes dishes by hand. I find that exercising can help me with this.

Can you walk on your treadmill or jog at night instead of snacking? This can soothe/comfort you if you're eating for that. It can distract your mind/body while your unconscious works on the creative problem. It can give you energy if you are tired.

Tawny on February 5, 2010 at 11:01 AM said...

What fun ideas, Michelle. I don't like to exercise at night because 1) then I'm awake even longer once the Muse lets go and 2) I prefer not to wake the family and have them all staring at me while I try and write, once the Muse stops wanting food *g*

I've been considering learning yoga though and have a few tapes and CDs - now that could be the perfect middle of the night answer! Stretch :-)

Tawny on February 5, 2010 at 11:02 AM said...

Sally, it sounds like you've not only identified your danger time but found the right answer to combat it!!! Go you.

and hey - popcorn and almonds are two of my absolute favorite go-to snacks :-)

Michelle Butler on February 5, 2010 at 11:16 AM said...

Tawny - best of luck with the Yoga! I'm playing with the idea of doing yoga too. I always liked the body flow class that was a mix of yoga, pilates and tai chi.

Speaking of snacks, I just saw online from Self Magazine a list of 30 healthy snacks under 200 calories. Interesting list:

While there, check out the 20 best foods for weight loss:

Yes, I'm becoming a food freak. I'm thinking about reading stuff written by Michael Pollan or Alice Waters.

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