I recently had a conversation with a friend about artists working at night and the stereotypes of the creative night owl.
Many artists slip into the habit of working at nights to avoid the distractions of the day and all of the annoying, loud and demanding people in it.
I was saying how ‘I’m not a morning person so to speak, but I really hate being a night person.’
I have discovered over the years, that this is not because I don’t think it’s fun to stay up late, weather it’s for the sake of having a good time, or for work, or just being creative. Nor is it simply because I’m getting older or I find it hard to stay up late. On the contrary I think that there is something magical about staying awake through the hours of darkness. It is an enchanting time, a bewitching time, a time when our decision making is not necessarily at its best, but this can often help us to achieve things we never would in the daylight hours. Some of my best and most inspired creations have happened late at night.
But I just cant do it all the time, or I go nuts!
I have discovered that when you develop a creative process that flourishes during the day, you can achieve results that are perhaps more consistent, productive and healthy.
This is what I said to my friend. “I’m finding that I’m a morning person these days just because I’m enjoying being healthy.”
Being creative during the day is something that you really have to just deal with if you are working on someone else’s project. So when I shifted from being a lazy afternoon working guitar teacher and late night gig performer, to an all day sound editor on films, I really needed to be able to get up early and fly into that creative head space with little prompting other than a hearty coffee (or three).
So, even when I am not working on films now, I feel a compulsion to go flat out all day on my own creative projects.
I like getting up in the morning and getting stuck into my work, creating and achieving a lot before the day is even half over. Once I have already achieved something in the morning, I feel better about the rest of the day.
This goes hand in hand with finding time to exercise. So many colleagues of mine who work in film say that they are too busy to exercise. But I find it is the opposite. I find that taking time to exercise somehow creates more time and makes me more productive. It’s like magic.
As soon as I have gone for a run, or done a work out, all of a sudden, my enthusiasm lifts and I feel that I have so much extra time, simply because I don’t waste time by feeling bad about myself. I feel less like eating bad food to comfort myself. I feel proud of my achievements and if I do splash out and eat bad food, I don’t feel as much like I need to punish myself because I have already done something positive with my day. So the earlier I get out there and just do it, the better.
At this point in the conversation I told my friend that I want to be a Nike artist. – “Just do it!”
Forget about excuses, forget about image, just get your arse out of bed and go make art!
I know it is harder for musicians, because you have to perform at night, but in all things there must be a balance. As my favourite Greek god Apollo said ‘practice all things in moderation, including moderation.’
So, even though I love my mornings and my days and getting the most out of my creative time, there should always be time for the late night creative burst of inspiration. Or a crazy jam with some creative friends while drinking bunch of fruit cocktails!
I found this article, which suggests that people who are night owls tend to be more intelligent, but more susceptible to addiction and generally less reliable, hence the typical muso stereotype. But is it really that simple? Are people who stay up all night working on crazy schemes really smarter or do they just like to think that they are?
Other articles I read, suggested that morning people, ‘Larks,’ are often happier, but I know plenty of people who are forced to get up in the morning, and they are anything but happy about it.
What do you all think? I’d like to hear your opinions. Especially in relation to your creative habits?
Are you early risers, conditioned to the 9-5? (or in my case the 8:30- 7:30)
Or are you chronic night owls, chugging away in the hours of darkness? Clinging to the romantic fantasy of the manic artist while insisting that you can’t get up in the morning because you’re ‘simply too intelligent for all that nonsense.’
Which ever way you want to go…I say just be Nike about it. – smash that art and enjoy yourself.
JUST DO IT!