Growing up, I never saw the middle of the night. It supervised me while I slept in my bed, with the streetlight shining through the blinds. On the rare occasion I was awake past midnight, I felt like it was something to brag about. But rolling around in bed, still awake at 2AM, wasn’t anything to be happy about. In fact, it was torture within the comfort of bedsheets.
Then I moved away to University and everything changed. I became friends with the middle of the night. We understood each other.
You see, when it came to school assignments, essays in particular, I did not start most of them until the day before they were due. A lot of people call this procrastination. A lot of people shake their head and raise an eyebrow at people who leave things until the last minute. And a lot of people say, “start your assignments in advance.”
I couldn’t care less what they thought, or for their advice. I knew myself. I had tried it their way before. I tried to start essays in advance. It didn’t work for me.
I’m not the type of person who can write one page of an essay one day and go back the next day and write another page. I can’t do it. The essay wouldn’t flow and my voice in the essay would change depending on the day. I had to do it in one sitting.
Whenever I tried to start an assignment in advance, I lost focus. Probably because I knew there was no immediate pressure to get words from my fingertips to the computer screen. It wasn’t due the next day. I might as well take a nap. Or go on Facebook. Or hang out with friends. Or watch TV. Or something else, anything else.
There was just so much going on during the day and so many people to interact with, that school work got lost in the shuffle. It didn’t seem as important as developing friendships.
Therefore, I always did my work at night…the middle of the night.
It was quiet. It was peaceful. Everyone else was asleep. It was just me, my assignments, readings, music, and donuts. Yes, donuts.
In the middle of the night there were no distractions. And when an essay was due the next day, the pressure to get it finished was there. I love performing under pressure; it’s when I do my best work.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “how did you stay awake?” It wasn’t easy, but I always told myself that I would never go to bed if an assignment wasn’t finished. There was no “I’ll finish it in the morning” mentality from me. And sure, some nights were harder to get through than others, but I did.
Taking a nap at 7PM was one of my tricks. I knew that 7PM was still too early for me to start working on assignments without distractions, so why bother? Sleep for 2-3 hours and wake up ready to go. If I didn’t get a nap in, I would take a 10 minute snooze every hour throughout the night.
I literally had this down to a science.
The middle of the night was when I did my best work. My marks were proof of that. Friends always asked me how I did it, or why I would let myself start writing an essay so late. I didn’t really have an answer, it was just the way I had done things for my entire University career and it worked. I had built up enough confidence to the point where I knew I was going to pull it off. I was never worried about missing a deadline. And I never did.
My theory was, there are 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you sleep, as long as you DO sleep. (Remember, that’s a student’s perspective. If you have a 9-5 job, it may not apply to you). Strategic sleeping is what I call it.
I always told myself that I could sleep when the work was finished. Sleeping was always the easy way out. Statistics and teachers always said that the brain performs better with sleep. I spent four years squashing that theory, even though it may be true for most people.
Here’s a statistic: I once wrote an exam on 30 minutes of sleep and left with a 92%. So, there’s that.
In the world we live in today, everything is about communication. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Texts. Websites. Television. Everything. During the day, it’s very hard to focus on yourself. You have family, friends, and a bunch of things to do on your phone and the Internet. We’re always interacting with people.
The middle of the night is my escape from that. It’s where I can think my own thoughts. It’s where I don’t have to pick up my phone every ten minutes to reply to a text. It’s where I can write, and write, and write, and not feel compelled to check Twitter or see what’s on TV.
It’s just me. The loud world is on hiatus for a few hours. I don’t have to worry about stopping for meals, or anyone else.
My habit of writing in the middle of the night at school has carried over into my post-graduate life. Almost all of the posts on this blog were written in the middle of the night. The ones that weren’t, you can tell, or at least I can.
How, you ask? Well, they lack in quality. Probably because they were written a few paragraphs at a time, rather than all at once. Also, I probably edited the heck out of them.
When I write blog posts during the night, the first words that come to mind are put on the screen. I’m not pondering over word selection or phrasing. It just comes out naturally. During the day, I’m forcing words into a blog post. I’m second-guessing word selection and thinking to myself, “don’t say that.”
Other than writing, it’s also a great time for life chats with friends. Honesty is never more prevalent than in a conversation held at 2AM. I promise you that.
So that’s my story, and that’s why I blog in the middle of the night. Hope this post kept you awake.