Finding Your Golden Hour

Nearing the golden hour at the Scarborough Bluffs
Nearing the golden hour at the Scarborough Bluffs

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Joel’s Journal - Entry #118 - 2/26/2017

Doctor, photographer, and I’m sure many others know this term and have different reasons for why it’s so special.

In medicine, it’s the hour after a serious injury, which is considered the most critical for successful treatment.

However, let’s talk about it in creative terms, because it’s Monday and I’m sure you don’t need any other reasons to feel morose.

It’s through photography that I first became acquainted with this term. The “golden hour” generally happens twice a day, and lasts for varying degrees of time depending on the season, but it is the first hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. It’s when the light is at it’s most beautiful. It’s when you get that creamy, yellowy light that spills across the floor of your apartment like honey. It’s the time you’ll get that soft orange glow diffused through the trees. Essentially, you’re going to get the most beautiful shots at this time of day. That’s not to say that you can’t get gorgeous shots at all other times of the day, because you certainly can, but it’s during these times that Mother Nature is going to give you a helping hand.

But I don’t want to talk about photography today, or medicine, I want to talk about a golden hour for writing, because after years of working through different routines and finding what’s best for me, I know that there is a particular time that I’m going to be at my most creative, and I know that if I don’t take advantage of that time, my entire day will be thrown off.

It’s the same feeling I get when I know that I’ve missed a particularly gorgeous sunset. There’s nothing you can do but swallow it and move on.

So, for that reason, and that comparison, I’m hijacking the golden hour term and applying it to writing.

There are tons of articles across the internet that proclaim the benefits of establishing a routine for writing and making sure you’re sitting down at the desk at the same time each day. A lot of them are just regurgitated versions of the one that came before it, written for websites that are more concerned about ad content and clicks then they are about real content.

I’ll distill the bullshit for you. It’s as simple as setting your alarm at the same time every day and dragging yourself out of bed.

Trust me, those first few weeks, that hour is going to feel anything but golden. However, if you give it time and stick to it, I promise the reward will come. As the story develops, or as whatever you’re working on develops, those alarms will start to become easier to bear, and after some time you won’t even need it. You’ll be so ramped to get out of bed and start writing that you’ll more than likely wake up before the alarm even has a chance to go off.

Trust me, the satisfaction you get from cock-blocking the alarm from braying its incessant racket into the calm stillness of the morning is sublime.

For me, my golden hour typically fluctuates between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. depending on the project and how deep I am into it. Generally, the golden hour will start to push earlier and earlier as the story goes on. However, that’s not to say your golden hour isn’t at 10 p.m. or even midnight. All of our brains are like fingerprints, you just need to find what works for you.

And if you can do that while doing what you love and doing it well…well, then that’s just perfect.

Thanks for reading,

J.J.W.