Ten o’clock Flow Time

It is now 9:53 a.m. on a Saturday here where I sit.  Right on schedule, a wave of energy paired with inspiration comes to me—I’m ready to jump into that flow state and churn out creative work.

Ten o’clock is my flow time.  Like clockwork.  Max knows all about it and makes an effort not to be on the computer or otherwise plan things for us to do at that time.

It happens on weekdays, too, but unfortunately, that’s when people are all coming to me with disparate needs and requests and I can’t focus and produce at what would normally be my most productive time, never mind that my mind naturally tries to turn to whatever is autonomously bubbling out of the deeper reaches of my consciousness at the time. Others (including my mom and my boss) have remarked on my ability to focus on something that engages me and wonders why I don’t seem able to switch that to do whatever it is that teachers or employers want me to do at that time.  Don’t get me wrong; my grades and performance reviews have always been good.  But they have seen the superhuman flow of 10 o’clock and wonder why I can’t always perform at that level.

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As it stands, I take time out of work to try to mop the ideas that are spilling out of my ears and record them in some form in the hopes of turning them into something of value at a later hour, which is hard enough even without being drained from spending eight hours in front of a work computer, producing things that are occasionally still worthwhile, but not…well…shall we say, not the stuff of ten o’clock.

That is not to say that at ten o’clock I produce material directly spun into gold.  It needs to be refined to be publish-worthy, for sure. Unfortunately, given the reality of limited time and energy dictated by the 40-hour work week, I rarely get to come back and polish, even when I do get to write at 10 a.m.  And I have recognized in myself a fear of what happened in my last post, where I referred to my quickly-dashed-off response to Gail Collins, which had some unpolished gold that she recognized even as I strongly wanted to pull it back and have a chance to refine it, if she was going to title her reader response column after it.

And yet, I fail at doing that.  That’s why I so rarely post to this blog, unlike previous journal and blog efforts where I churned out content without worrying about the quality.  As you might expect, I produced both more garbage and more gems.  As any artistic person will tell you, from photographers to writers, that’s how it has to work.

So!  I’m going to try something new here.  Given that I can in fact go back and refine what I’ve written in response to comments or just in response to thinking more, I’m going to try to take advantage of it and willingly post more garbage in the hope of also producing more gems.  I’m going to spin more unpolished gold with the expectation that I can polish it later.

Starting with this blog!

And I’d like to ask you, readers: do any of you also have a ten o’clock?  When is it?  What is the experience like for you?  Please share in the comments on this page (and not on my Facebook page, if you came from there) so future readers can also join in.

10 thoughts on “Ten o’clock Flow Time

  1. I think it depends on what I’m trying to accomplish.

    With writing, I need certain things that go beyond time – quiet, not too hot or cold. So I usually end up most productive first thing in the morning when everyone is out of the house, or after everyone has gone to bed. The rest of the day, it really depends.

    But when it comes to stuff outside of writing – just getting things done, I’m one of those people that tends to get hit with a burst of energy in unpredictable moments. It’s like the idea hits me and that’s what gets me inspired to jump in and accomplish things. If it’s something that takes a long time though, it can be difficult to capture that energy boost on a regular basis. I’ve been thinking about ways to harness that so I can be more productive, but it’s hard when the parameters seem so random. Nothing but a hit of inspiration seems to motivate.

    And OMG don’t get me started on blogging. I made a promise to myself that I would not delete my blog this year lol. I started out really well with posts, but nothing feels … I guess as organic as it used to? I used to enjoy LJ blogging and stuff, and my blog now feels like a Requirement as a Writer. So the fun is sucked out of it. It’s weird … I felt so much more connected to blogging years ago, but I can’t really put my finger on why I can’t do the same now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jen, lovely to hear from you and thanks for chiming in! Creative people all have their individual ways to create, clearly, and capturing that motivation is always the key thing. I feel fortunate that I have a time of day that it seems to hit. Also, this only happened (or at least I only noticed it) in the past few years. Back in the days of writing the Carlson Septs and the rest, I tended to be more active in the evenings, which goes with what I’ve heard about teenagers’ natural rhythms.

      And speaking of the Good Old Days, I really hear you about the lack of the organic feeling now; in my case, it seems to stem from trying to take myself too seriously to advance causes and build professional credibility and so on. That’s why I’m trying to just WRITE SOMETHING AND POST IT; the first thing is to get something out there. But I wonder if, in your case, blogging is getting in the way of other creative activities that you’d rather do? I see how blogging feels like a requirement for a writer, but if it’s getting in the way of more purposeful writing, then ditch it. We have enough hurdles to jump!

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  2. My ten o’clock is also ten o’clock… post meridiem, P.M., the sleep time. It’s a little horrible because if I roll into my most creative time and start “working,” I’ll be up until 2am and useless at Work. It also coincides with most social time on the weekends so I’m hardly ever home for it. I suppose if I could shut it off at midnight, I could capitalize on 10pm more easily than 10am!

    I’m with you though, on posting more unpolished work! It’s privately very irritating to think about refining positions, ideas, and writing publicly—but I think it’s something I must also do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cara, I used to have that problem, as my flow time used to be of the post meridiem sort as well! I think it shifted because I now get to work at 7:45 a.m.; as recently as my last job, I would be writing well into the night. The shift to ante merediem flow has been a blessing because it means I’m not sleepy the next day, but on the other hand, when I try to read books in the evening, I often fall asleep in them. This might well be the first sign of Getting Old in my life…or, hey, maybe if I go free spirit and quit my job, I can shift back to nighttime productivity.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment and wonderful to hear from you — it’s fascinating to hear how other creative folks live their productive lives.

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  3. I sometimes notice a flow at around 4 p.m. (after a real lag at around 3). I work until 5:30, and my carpool partner is often surprised that I haven’t even noticed it’s 5:30–I’m in the middle of something and could easily keep working until at least 6, but life and dinnertime interrupt. I also sometimes get bursts of energy in the later evening, which is why you’ll see me posting something on FB between 11 pm and 1 am, and people like your mom tell me to go to bed or commenting on how late I’m posting. I’d rather get the thought out than go to bed. I’m good for mundane, routine work (or meetings) in the a.m., and usually I have enough of that then. As for blogging–I’m impressed with people keeping up with a blog purely out of interest. I actually have contemplated having a blog but I have no particular focus for one, and have no interest in promoting it or anything. PLEASE go ahead and post both the garbage and the gems. I bet even some of the stuff you view as garbage is interesting, perhaps even gemlike, to someone out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for that encouragement to post even the “garbage!” That’s real praise! Your post is the only reason that yesterday’s fluff about the Closing Ceremony made it onto the blog. 🙂

      Late afternoon flow, huh? I suspect that might be a rare thing! Late night flow seems more common, as you’re not the only person I know who’s on FB late at night. If you started a blog, I’d definitely read it. What kinds of things would you post in it (focused or not)?

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      1. Well, let’s see. Things that bug me or please me about the way high schools work (from the perspective of a parent.) Things I noticed when I assisted Detroit constituents who called their state rep for help with something. The way TV shows and consumption has changed so dramatically in the past 20 years. The various ways people use their power of curation (not sure that’s a word. So, their powers of influence, their ability to curate things for their circle of acquaintances). The hive mind. Miscommunications among coworkers.

        Wow, thanks for that unexpected writing prompt!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oooh! I would read any of those. Curation has been on my mind lately, too, and I’d love to learn more about the experiences of the Rep’s Detroit constituents.

        You know, a blog can really a very low commitment…very easy to just try it, hop in and out from time to time… *whistles*

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