I’ve been writing a lot more than usual lately and I’ve noticed some interesting trends in how I write. I draft papers best late at night. At night, I write freely, putting plenty of words on the page. Most of the day I struggle to find the right words, but at night “the right word” hardly seems to matter. Instead I just pick a word in the general vicinity of the one I want and stick it on the page. It works for quick drafts and I like to think that after years and years of practice, I’m able to draft something readable on the first go. I like to think that. Note that I said “readable” instead of “good.” Nothing is ever good in the first draft.
One of my papers went through 6 complete rewrites this last semester.
The best of my revisions occur early in the morning. Apparently a sharp mind is great for changes but terrible for drafting. A sharp mind spends too much time saying, “You dolt. That sounds like crap.” Maybe this is why so many great writers are alcoholics — Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Joyce, Thompson, Poe, Capote, Kerouac, Faulkner, and the list goes on and on. They just need something to lower the defenses. My drug of choice is sleep deprivation, but I’m not sure it is working. Perhaps I’ve built up a tolerance.
Or maybe I’ve been spending too much of my evenings revising and too few of them drafting. I go through my entire day putting off the revision process just to find myself unable too dulled by sleep deprivation to actually revise.