It Was a Dark and Stormy Morning…

If you happen to be a Peanuts fan—or a writer—you’ve probably seen the cartoon of Snoopy on top of his doghouse, hard at work on his novel. He has the perfect opening line: It was a dark and stormy night.

Long ago, I posted that cartoon above my desk at Random House because I thought it was funny. These days, I usually work at the kitchen counter, and the faded but ever-diligent Snoopy types on (or does he?) from the bulletin board in my office.

Back when I first cut out the cartoon from the newspaper, I thought the joke was that Snoopy used a major cliché to start his opus. But later, from sad experience, I realized the bigger joke: That one lofty line is as far as Snoopy gets.

In subsequent cartoons, we see him tossing crumpled pages from his typewriter until the pile of rejected words nearly reaches the top of his doghouse. Ah, the Tortured Writer. Not so funny, really. It’s pretty much my current reality, except all those terrible words go into an outtakes file on my computer. Well, not all. Most don’t make that cut, or I would be quickly out of storage. (Did you know a medium-length novel contains about 1 MB of info? Now you do!)

As I type this post, it is…a dark and stormy night. Morning, actually: 4:39 am, to be exact. I was awake for an hour before I finally decided to pull on my robe and head downstairs to write. I’ve never done such a thing, as I am usually more of a night owl, but I reminded myself that countless super-successful writers do this every single morning, rain or shine. (Maybe not Snoopy.)

It’s true everyone’s favorite literary beagle may have had a few grandiose, overly romantic ideas about the writer’s life, including those astronomical earning expectations. His novels had a lot of rough starts. I think he started a particularly disastrous romance once, and a thriller featuring monsters and bunnies.

But you have to give Snoopy credit: He did put in the work to eventually finish some of those novels. We know this because he got a LOT of brutal rejections: “We regret that (your manuscript) did not suit our current needs. If it ever does, we’re in trouble.” Ouch!

It may be daylight out there now—hard to tell—so I guess it’s time to hit the doghouse and start typing. (“Book One. Part I. Chapter One. Page 1.”) Should I make coffee to kick my brain in gear, or do early risers tough it out until they hit a slump?

I’m not sure a crack-of-dawn writing routine will work for me, but hey, this is a start, right? Snoopy and I figure we’ll need 2 to 3 days in a row to make it stick.

Readers and writers, what time of day do you get the most accomplished? Morning? Noon? Night? None of the above? Let us know in the comments!

34 thoughts on “It Was a Dark and Stormy Morning…

  1. Morning writer here. And coffee is vital to kicking my brain into gear. (Not quite there yet this morning.)

    I really really really want that Snoopy calendar!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I need my caffeine first And foremost at the start of the day and have joked with coworkers that I shouldn’t be allowed near a computer before 10 am. Given that, I do most of my writing on the lunch hour or after the day job. Happy writing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You should have seen me trying to set the blog settings for this post in early morning, J.C. (tags, images, that sort of stuff). I kept muttering/cursing to myself, so my husband was concerned when he appeared.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. My routine that has worked for a few years is this: get up anywhere from 5:30’to 7 am (7 is known as “sleeping in” around here. Have breakfast and 4 cups of coffee. At the desk between 9 and 10, write till lunch about 1. After lunch is reserved for reading, which I consider every bit as important as writing. After dinner is TV time with my honey. This routine has allowed me to produce seven novels since 2018.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sounds like a great schedule, Tom! Guess I’d really have to get the early morning routine to stick to be a member of your household. 4 cups, though…You’ve got me beat (maybe even Vickie and Cynthia!).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, love it. I’ve found I can write coherently enough (relatively), but…my energy level for chores plummets with dropping caffeine levels. Or at least my enthusiasm level.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Morning, Dru! I bet you had those storms in your part of the “woods,” too. (Think ours appear a few hours after yours.)

      Like

  4. Morning person here (by eight pm I’m usually in bed with a book).

    I hadn’t much thought about this till your post, Lisa, but you’re right: Snoopy DID finish at least one m.s., based on his rejections. Good for him. For as several people said last week at the More Than Malice virtual mystery convention, finishing the m.s. is the most important thing. Nothing can happen if you don’t accomplish that momentous task first.

    And good for you for starting one, because you can’t finish until you start. Looking forward to reading it, girl!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thanks for the support, Leslie. I’m really trying here. I usually tell people I’m on Pacific Standard Time, but maybe it’s more your time zone in Hawaii…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s incredibly rare I’m creative in the morning. I usually use that time to go through email, social media, etc. Back in the day when my gym was open, I often took dance classes in the a.m. I’m an afternoon into evening writer, i’ve learned. But when I have a sudden brainstorm, I jot it down, no matter what the time.
    Loved the post, Lisa. And like Annette, I want a Snoopy calendar!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I wish I’d cut out a Snoopy clipping like that to inspire me early on. Kudos to him for finishing his manuscripts and sending them in!

    I’ve switched my creative time over the years. I used to write in the evenings, but am definitely a morning writer now. Steaming mugs of tea also help me produce more words in the earlier hours!

    I’m still a semi-night owl but now save my evenings for hanging out with loved ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve got that Snoopy calendar. Although there is a different one that I actually use at my work computer. It’s got all the Peanuts characters.

    Personally, I’ve always loved Snoopy’s rejection letters. “Please note, we have included two rejection letters. One for this story and one of the next you will send us.”

    And there’s how he took Lucy’s writing advice. When Lucy questioned the use of “suddenly” in the sentence “Suddenly, a shot rang out,” Snoopy changed it to “Gradually, a shot rang out. With help like that, is it any wonder his stories get rejected?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha, Mark, love those rejects! And the “suddenly/gradually” edit adjustment really made my day. We’re always told to never, ever use “suddenly”–now we know exactly why! (Also, the idea of having Lucy as one’s editor is mildly terrifying.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Snoopy must be the Patron Saint of Writers. Or at least our spirit animal!

    I’m definitely an early bird, up at 5 drinking my coffee every day. But once I had the idea that since I’m up early I could get an extra hour of writing in every day if I just did it first thing. What a disaster! I don’t really know why, except that I am such a creature of habit. I’m at my desk at 9 or so and I typically write for 3 hours. After lunch I do “business-type” stuff and everything that doesn’t take too much brain power.

    I’m in bed with a book around 9pm. Sometimes I’m able to read for two hours, and sometimes only two minutes.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Great post, Lisa! I write whenever I can wrestle some time from the schedule. Like right now, after three appointments but before dinner, I sat down to write (then I remembered that I hadn’t been to Chicks yet so ran over here instead). I prefer late morning and afternoon writing but I wrote the entire first draft of my dissertation between 5 am and 8 am before I went off to teach and sometimes will write until super duper late at night if I get going on a roll and no one needs me. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cynthia, I hear you on the wrestling. We need more hours in the day (or maybe fewer appointments!). Hope you got in your dinner, yikes.

      Like

  11. Lisa, I think editors (or agents) missed a great opportunity when they rejected Snoopy’s manuscript(s). His charisma, his level of celebrity — just his name on the cover would make it a best-seller!

    I usually write in the afternoon. But I have intermittent insomnia and sometimes do my most productive writing in the middle of the night! Although I sometimes have Snoopy’s problem with false starts!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m a write-around-the-edges writer, cramming in time between shuttling kids, while waiting for the daughter’s dance lesson to end, around day job writing assignments…you get the idea. It’s kind of chaotic, but it works. Ish. The one constant: COFFEE.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. What a wonderful Snoopy-enhanced post! I’m a night person, but since 4 AM is usually bedtime, can I get credit for being a morning person, too?

    I write when deadlines command me, but if there are no due dates on the horizon, I write anytime. Whenever I’m lucky enough to get an idea for works in progress, I’ll drop everything and start writing immediately. This works great unless I’m on the freeway.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Kidding! No worries, I don’t drive and type on the freeways. 😉

    BTW– This post prompted wonderful memories of Sue Grafton — she gave a talk at Vroman’s Pasadena and mentioned that Snoopy inspired her. She recommended a Peanuts writing guide but can’t remember the title right now. SO thank you, very nice to remember Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

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