Today Dina Santorelli is joining me to share a wonderful post about her night-time writing habits! Dina is a freelance writer and editor, and I’m thrilled to have her on the blog!
by Dina Santorelli
I like to write at night, in the middle of the night, when the world is asleep or heading in that direction. I set my alarm for 2 or 3 a.m. and force myself to rise and scoot downstairs to my laptop, ready and waiting.
Sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep, lie there under the blankets like normal people, safe from the cold of the winter or the busyness of life, safe from the failure to write even a single decent word. And I’ll hit the snooze button just to prolong the tension, like a good thriller writer should – just another 10 minutes before I find out I’ll never write another sentence again. But then the worries come that I might snooze the years away, open my eyes to find that I’m 60 years old, my dream a distant memory, and I remind myself that the time is now, that books don’t get written by sleeping authors, and that usually is enough to do the trick.
As luck would have it, my husband isn’t normal either. A volunteer fireman and EMT, he gets up at all hours and drags himself out the front door to save people. On many occasions, he’ll walk back in the house an hour later only to go back out again for another call. It’s like living with a superhero. I figure the least I can do is drag myself out of bed to do something completely selfish like write a book.
My daylight hours are filled with chaos – children, errands, housework and freelance writing, the kind that helps pay the bills. Sometimes, especially when I’m writing 1,000 words per day, which is how I finished writing my first novel, Baby Grand, my writing time will spill over from the night into the day and then into the night again, one big writing session interrupted only by sleep and hungry stomachs, both my children’s and mine.
But it’s at night that I tend to thrive, when I can focus, when the quiet is such that my imagination comes alive, and I’m able to take a step back from my life and write with an objectivity that seems to become lost in the sun. Images appear clearer, sharper, as if the projector in my mind is better seen when there’s darkness around me, letting me focus on every frame.
Writing at night also makes me feel alone, which is pretty tricky when you live in a modest home filled with five people and space is at a premium. When I’m stuck on or need to work through a scene, I’ll roam the house like a ghost, listening to the floor creak underfoot, or I’ll stare at the frost on the windowpanes or listen to the raindrops on the kitchen skylight or watch the passing headlights of a lone automobile stretch across my ceiling, as if this were all being done especially for me.
And then, sure enough, after an hour or two of this, of writing, or trying to, my eyes will begin to droop, my head tilt to the side, and I’ll know it’s time to crawl back to bed and sleep just a little more. And I do, because I know, am satisfied, that I’m that much closer to the elusive light at the end of the tunnel.
About Dina Santorelli
Dina Santorelli is a freelance writer and editor who has written for many publications, including Newsday, First For Women and Decorating Spaces. She is co-author of the well-received Good Girls Don’t Get Fat (Harlequin, 2010) and currently serves as executive editor of Salute and Family magazines. Her first novel, Baby Grand, is represented by The Stonesong Press in New York. Dina also blogs about her novel’s road to publication as well as the writing life at Making Baby Grand.