The Golden Hour: For Writers

golden hour.jpg

Take a basic course in photography and you will likely learn about the Golden Hour.  It’s a special time right after sunrise, or before sunset, when the angle of the sun casts brilliant reddish hues over everything.

I remember my photography instructor gushing about the amazing possibilities this little window of time would provide.  I was attending the Defense Information School at the time learning how to be a Navy journalist.  I recall thinking, “I came to learn how to write, not take pictures of random nonsense!”  My younger self didn’t realize how much photography would grow on me, and it became more than just a part of the job—it was something to fill my free time.

camera-1240219_960_720.jpgSo when people ask me when the best time to write is, I always think of the Golden Hour. While writing is different than photography, they are both art, and they both require the artist to show up.

The thing with the Golden Hour is you can charge your batteries, pack multiple lenses and filters, strap a tripod to your back, and lug it all out to the perfect location, but there is no guarantee you will get a single usable image.  Maybe clouds roll in.  Maybe you just have a bad day and don’t get an interesting angle or inspired shot.  Maybe you just sit there and get lost in the moment and don’t take a single photograph.  But every now and then, as long as you keep trying, you will get that one photo that takes your breath away when you open it up to edit.

Writing is the same way.  While you don’t need to wait for sunrise or sun fall (or lug heavy gear), you still have to be present.  On any given day, you may find inspiration or you may flounder.  Those mental clouds can roll in and ruin even the most perfectly planned day of writing.  If you stay consistent and keep hitting those keys, eventually “it” will happen.  You will have a moment of perfect clarity.  A moment of pristine mental light.  In this Golden Writing Hour (or maybe multiple hours if you’re lucky), all those rough days will be worth it.  The result, well, it might just amaze you more than any photograph could.

The Editor[Editor’s Note]

This is one of the first posts I generated here on QE.  Since then, I’ve taken a book with a handful of chapters and finished it (and edited a couple others).  During that time, there were more cloudy days than golden ones.  The lesson I learned is bounce back.  For me, that’s the ability to forget about a lackluster day and treat a new one with an open mind.

With that being said, when those golden days shined, they changed my book in big ways.  On some of those golden days, I didn’t write within the manuscript at all but simply remapped and re-outlined sections to enhance the story.  I saw additions and concepts that weren’t fully formed solidify.  Honestly, I attribute this to simply being present.

This is why I encourage those I collaborate with to at least take a small amount of time each day and write.  Even if it isn’t to tackle the ever-looming word count, progress comes in different ways.  Sometimes, all it takes is for us to be present and willing.

question-markThat’s it for today!  It’s fun for me to re-read and give some of these older posts a second life, and it’s also interesting to think about where and what past-Corey was doing back then.  Do you have a Golden Hour in your writing life?  Do you have a method you use to help you bounce back from a rough day?  I’d love to talk about it.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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19 responses

  1. I really like how you made a reference to The Golden Hour. It was perfect and I get it. You can take hundreds of photos and end up having two good ones. Same goes for writing. You can write and write and as long as you continue writing, you will get clarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The idea came to me while I was sitting in my living room watching my cat Niblet bask in the sunshine – solving the ever present, “What will I blog about today,” dilemma. Love your blog – keep pumping out the great information and posts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re very welcome. The blog’s title got to me.

        Niblet! Sounds cute. You should blog about her ^_^

        Thank you! I’m new to blogging but I thought that helpful posts could be easier to write about especially since ‘how to write’ is always on mind.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it and took the time to swing by. I’ve been swamped this weekend and am trying to play catch-up! I need a few extra hours in the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Me, my golden hour is just before I get to bed at night. To the point where I can’t sleep until I’ve done my writing. So if I got the blog post done earlier in the day, I move onto a WiP, even if just for 20 minutes or so.
    Some of those twenty minute jobs are utterly hopeless, but occasionally the magic happens.
    A great post Corey.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve mentioned this before, Andrew. I also spend some time staring at the ceiling thinking about my books when I should be sleeping. With rewrites coming this week (finally!), I’m hoping to channel some of that sleeplessness into productivity. It’s taken every fiber of my being to not crack into the rewrites early.

      Here’s to hoping the magic blasts us both into creative oblivion and causes the creative whirlpool to start its terrifying churning.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In every blog I talk about inspiration or process, I talk about the importance of consistency. I think inspiration comes to those prepared and open to it. If you just keep plugging, it’ll inspire more and more inspiration.

    I’ve seen this happen in photography. My most prolific period was when I decided to carry a camera with me at all times. It feels ridiculous at first, but as I walked around, because I had my camera with me, I kept seeing images. Some just had nice light; others had nice texture. Then the magic started coming more regularly. The more open I was, the more I THOUGHT about photography, the more photography appeared to me.

    This is why I’m such a believe in momentum.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I absolutely agree with you here, Matt. You had always mentioned it before, but when I started practicing daily writing habits I began to see it pay off. Even here on my blog I doubted my ability to produce consistently well-written content, but over time, habit bred varying levels of success. These weekend have been really illuminating for me because I can see the ebb and flow of my own creativity as I recycle content on the weekends. I can see the power of lack thereof in the words.

      Thanks for rubbing some of your good habits off on me bud!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I largely agree with M.L.S. Weech about consistency. I write 5 evenings a week, starting around 6:30 and going to somewhere around 10 or 11. Some sessions are awesome, others not so much, but my brain is trained to know that it has to get something done! And, for the most part, it’s productive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like the consistency of your schedule, Jenn. I will need to streamline my writing schedule again now that I am starting rewrites this week. Right now I sort of cycle on and off during my “working hours.” Editing a few chapters of my clients books, then switching gears and writing toward my own WIPs. I miss the calming consistency of having a more intuitive schedule.

      Thanks for reading today and for stopping in. Best of luck to you in your current projects 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First time I’ve read this, but you capture the fleeting nature of inspiration perfectly. It pops up for brief spaces, only to dissappear and leave you lost. It’s got an almost romantic feel to it, the idea that you’re chasing after something so easily lost. But when you find it, it’s like sipping on the gods’ ambrosia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you on this sentiment. Writing highs and lows are emotional to say the least. I’ve experienced few things that evoke as much emotion (both good and bad) as writing does for me.

      I need some of that ambrosia right now. I think I could add it to my coffee with varying results…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That sounds amazing. I have a couple friends who are still in the Navy who are stationed in Italy, and I’m always drooling all over their photos. Enjoy your time there and don’t be afraid to nap 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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