Friday, May 9, 2014

On Writing at 4:00 am

“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.” - Franz Kafka 

I like that. I don't necessarily like the inherent negativity of the phrase "cold abyss," but I love the idea of writing as solitude, as an act that is so deeply personal that it forces a descent into oneself. I think this is at least part of the reason why some of my best writing gets done between the hours of midnight and 6:00 am. 

Now hear me out here, because I'm not just trying to justify my procrastinatory tendencies (I have been working on this paper for some time now, after all). There's just something serenely beautiful about sitting completely alone in my apartment at 3:30 in the am with only the sound of keys being pressed to disturb the stillness. 

I'm not saying that this is the only way to write, and I'm not saying that it is necessarily the most productive way to write. In fact, as I'm getting older it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to actually do the whole write all night thing anymore. I find that I enjoy writing in public spaces like coffee shops and libraries and common meeting areas in random buildings around campus as well, and I can usually get into a good writing flow in those settings. But while I can be productive and get things done in those settings, they aren't really conducive to getting into the spirit of "utter solitude." They don't allow me the pervasive stillness I need to really descend into the cold abyss of myself, which is where I feel like I find some of my best writing.

So while it means I'll be something of a zombie for the next couple of days, I'm going to relish these precious few moments before the world wakes up and begins the commotion of life once again. 

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