How to Have a Writing All-Nighter

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Pulling an All-Nighter

Writing is wonderful, but unfortunately, we don't always have the time to do it. Life just gets in the way sometimes. You have to go to a terrible place called work all the time, clean your home, do the laundry, spend time with loved ones, buy groceries, etc. There is a never-ending list of tasks that must be completed so you can function in life. Sadly, writing is not always on the top of that list. So when can you find the time to write?

I suggest trying something called an all-nighter. If you ever went to college, you are surely familiar with this concept. For whatever reason, you have way too many assignments due at the same time. This could be your own fault because you put off doing all the work until the last minute, or it could be really bad luck. In the end, the only way to achieve success in this situation is to pull an all-nighter. That is what I suggest when it seems like you can't find any time to write.

Of course, you may still be in college and reading this, and perhaps you need to write 5 papers tonight so you are looking for advice. This advice can easily be applied to writing papers all night as well. After all, I am kind of making this up as I go along based on past experience, my friends' college experiences (most of them were much bigger procrastinators than me!), and stuff I am going to learn along the way tonight. Yes, I am pulling a writing all-nighter tonight for the first time ever! Join me on this epic journey!

Writing All-Nighter Tips

  1. Drink lots and lots of caffeine.
  2. Have snacks.
  3. Prepare research materials prior to the Writing All-Nighter if possible.
  4. If you are not a night person, set aside just 3 hours to write one night.
  5. DON'T submit anything without proofreading and editing it the next day!
  6. Keep music or TV on in background to keep you alert.
  7. Break up writing sessions with tasks to keep you awake... preferably something that gets you moving.
  8. Find an all-nighter buddy that will not distract you too much with texts or Facebook messages so you can encourage each other.
  9. DON'T get too comfortable! No one only "rests their eyes" for a minute.
  10. Don't have a pity party... make it fun if possible.

6:25 PM

I am beginning my all-nighter in a fairly optimistic fashion. I have never been a night owl, but I do need to get some things done. So far, I have eaten dinner and started writing this hub. I have gathered some important items I will need: soda, tea, coffee, junk food, and the remote controls. Yes, these are the essentials.

Every good all-nighter includes lots of caffeine and this is no exception. You might opt for some five hour energy drinks or Red Bull, but I am going a more traditional route tonight. I also feel like those energy drinks can... well... how do I put this delicately? They upset one's bladder quite a bit. I am obviously not going to be able to get anything done if I have to pee every five minutes. Sorry... but this is just a fact.

If you are writing anything that is going to require some research, I recommend gathering those materials early on in the evening. Not only do you need them for all-nighter success, but you are probably more alert and able to find what you need at this time. Doing the easiest tasks first and waiting until it is really late to gather your research materials is a big no-no.

It is also important to set your goals early on in the evening. For instance, I am hoping to work on an eBook, do some tasks on Mechanical Turk, and work on several internet articles tonight. I do have some chores to do, like doing the dishes and putting away laundry, in between my writing sessions. I will also continuously update this hub with new thoughts, revelations, and probably, to be totally honest, a lot of whining.

As an added bonus, I will be corresponding with my friend tonight via Facebook because she has waited the last minute to pack for her vacation and she will be pulling a "packing all-nighter" tonight. We will encourage each other to stay awake! If at all possible, find yourself an all-nighter buddy, too, but just make sure you don't distract each other too much.

Caffeine is Your Friend!

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11:30 PM

Did I say staying up all night writing was a good idea? I might have been wrong.

One coffee, one diet soda, two phone calls, about 1/5 of an eBook later, and I am starting to get exhausted. I have folded and put away clothes, and I've put away clean dishes. I am tired, but still want to complete more work before going to sleep. Let's face it, all-nighters are great for college students, but not so much fun for adults in their 30s that get up at 6:30 in the morning everyday to go to work. Sigh.

I have learned it helps to have the TV on. It makes a lonely writer feel not so alone. It also helps not to pity yourself too much. Staying up late and writing is only going to benefit you in the long run. It is best to keep chugging along.


Sometime Around 1 AM

Sometimes we learn the most valuable lessons in life the hard way. A crucial element to successfully having a writing all-nighter - don't sit anywhere too comfortable. This is especially the case if you have a laptop that you opt to take into the bedroom with you. If you have comfortable fluffy wonderful pillows... it is a bad idea to get anywhere near them! You might just lay back on them and dose off for a bit; I mean, that is all hypothetically speaking, of course.

I realize I am probably not making a lot of sense at this point. Right now, I might even be asleep and this is all part of a weird dream. I am not sure anymore. I just attempted to play SongPop (a small distraction) and I was unable to recognize an Elvis Presley song. I believe that is a bad sign. It is also a bad sign that I just misspelled "attempted" at least 4 times before getting it right earlier in this paragraph.

So far this evening, I have managed to: begin two hubs (including this one), write about 1/5 of an eBook, complete one HIT on Mechanical Turk, make some soy candles, get some household chores done, fail at SongPop, talk on the phone, attempt to contact my friend through Facebook who apparently fell asleep hours ago, and read a few hubs. All in all, this was not a huge writing success, but it was still sort of productive. The fact that I am still awake is rather a miracle. I can finish everything tomorrow.... when I am alert.

Pillows are NOT Your Friends!

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All-Nighter Poll

Have you ever had to pull an all-nighter to get some writing done?

See results without voting

The Next Day

Well, I learned some interesting lessons about having a writing all-nighter. Let me share them with you.

First of all, I am not a night person and I will never be one. I simply work better during the light of day; I would be a terrible vampire.

Second, I learned that it is possible to take a time you would normal use for relaxing and focus entirely on writing. Sure, I failed at having an actual "all-nighter" but there was a good solid 3 - 4 hours of productivity when I got a lot done. Not all of it was my best work, but some of it is pretty good and the rest can be edited.

Another lesson learned was to break up the writing with some other tasks to keep awake. Making coffee, putting away clean dishes, vacuuming, or any other productive chore that must be done anyway will work well in this situation.

Last but not least, give yourself time to proofread and edit everything you've written when you are more alert. Don't just push that "submit" button thinking everything you've written is great at 1 AM... it probably is not. At this point, you are potentially delirious. When you are alert the next day, look over your work and then take the next steps with it.

The bottom line is, I intend on doing this more often. I will spend more Friday or Saturday nights working until about midnight and then proofreading all of it at some other point during the weekend. Caffeine made this day person achieve what she once thought was impossible, and that is great. It is also great to squeeze as much productivity out of a week as possible. I may not get rich with this technique, but I will at least feel like I am accomplishing something.


Copyright ©2013 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 14 comments

Proud Foot 3 years ago

This is brilliant! Enjoyable read and I actually got some helpful hints.

I hope the writing goes well for you!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Thank you so much! Good luck with your writing, as well. It was fun to write, but obviously, a little tiresome. ;-)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

My college days are long gone, Jeannie. I get up early in the morning and accomplish quite a bit by two in the afternoon. Then my brain shuts down and it is time for my other life. :) I love that you tried this....a true writer at heart.


Vickiw 3 years ago

I share Bill's idea of routine on this one. Get up very early, and work until I have to do something else. I don't think I could do one of your all-nighters, but I am glad it works for you. We all work out different routines, but for those of us who are serious, the goal is the same - just find some writing time!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

billybuc - Haha... my brain usually shuts down in the middle of the afternoon too. It's OK most of the time... I am usually at work when it happens and why waste brain power there? ;-) Sometimes I get a second wind at night. I am going to take advantage of that from now on. Thanks for your comment.

Vickiw - An all-nighter is not ideal for me, but I tried my best to

make it entertaining. I think I would stay realistic next time. Midnight is probably my limit. Everything beyond that was just gibberish. Thank you for checking out my hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

I think that might work well for some people and your plan included some great extras to last the night. I have insomnia but I can always go to sleep. I quite often wake up a 3 or 4 AM and it is a great time to write. No one is up and the house is quiet. Of course, I still have to drink that 1st cup of coffee. Very good hub.


zanaworld profile image

zanaworld 3 years ago from Bangalore

As @pamela99, I wake up around 4 am. A great time to write.

Nice article, good plan for writing at the night.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Jeanie, you are bolder than I am! I'm ready for bed by 9:00 every night.

I, too, write on Mechanical Turk for CrowdSource. Do you write for them? What do you think of their changes? I hate that they dropped the bonuse program. I was earning bonuses weekly. Now it's all I can do to find a topic to write about. They seem to inundate one topic and have few choices as they once had. Their changes have put a real damper on my income!

I can't write when I'm tired. My brain gets foggy and my creativity wanes.


Weekend Reader profile image

Weekend Reader 3 years ago

For the sake of your long-term sanity, I recommend a different process: go hogwild writing, with no interruptions (but the potty break) until 10 p.m. Then do all the other chores. This would allow your brain to disconnect from your writing and get to sleep faster. Then you're in better shape to begin again the next day.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

My all-nighter days are long past, but I do sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep so I get up and write for a while. That usually does the trick.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Pamela99 - I have never tried writing at 3 in the morning, but maybe I will give that a shot sometime. It is nice to write when everything is so quiet! Thanks for checking out my hub.

zanaworld - Wow... I feel like I am missing out on this writing at 4 AM thing. I must try it. Thanks for your comment.

bravewarrior - I am often ready for sleep by 9, too. I found that if I pushed myself, I could do it though. I occasionally do tasks for CrowdSource, but found that I've been having technically difficulties lately. I've moved on to most doing research or surveys for other companies on Mechanical Turk. Thanks for the comment!

Weekend Reader - Perhaps I will try that technique, too. I find that my phone rings quite a bit before 9 and I am usually doing chores while on the phone at the same time, but maybe I can write from 9 to 10, 9 to 11. Thanks for the advice!

DeborahNeyens - It sounds like I need to start writing if I wake up in the middle of the night. I am usually really when I wake up in the middle of the night though. I have a feeling most of my ideas will be able unicorns and pizza and other weird stuff.... maybe unicorns eating pizza. Who knows? I should try it anyway. Thanks for the comment!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Interesting theory, Jeannie, but I already know I am not an all-night person so I will pass on this one. When I have attempted an all-nighter writing episode in the past the stuff that looked so good at night could hardly bear scrutiny in the light of day. Honest!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

So many people can relate...like drbj, I'm not an all-nighter person but who didn't know at least a handful of people who pulled regular all-nighters all the way through college? We all have stories.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

drbj - An all-nighter can be tough. Writing that seems great at night is pretty scary stuff during the daylight hours. But it can be fun in a self-torture kind of way. ;-) Thanks for the comment!

randomcreative - I am not much of a night person either, but I felt the need to try it. I think I will do it again soon.... unless I win the lottery. Then I will quit my job and write whenever I like. :-) Thanks for checking out my hub!

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