curiosity on demand

When Tim Ferriss observes, “Almost every friend I have who is a consistently productive writer, does their best writing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.,” he fires yet another missile in the endless conflict between owls and larks. Morning people extol the world-building virtues of their productivity. Night people insist that art, inspiration, romance - everything worth staying awake for - reveal themselves in the moonlight. Well-meaning scientists draw up non-rigorous studies that convince nobody of anything and both sides of their moral, intellectual, and societal superiority. Exhausted neutrals are asked to take a stand: Team Sunlight or Team Moonlight.


Maybe you are not a morning person or a night person, but a morning person and a night person. Two people, each with their own sets of talents. Perhaps one is going unheard.

Some writers distinguish ideation from synthesis. Ideation periods are spent brainstorming, developing concepts, taking notes, reading and outlining. Synthesis is when the “actual” writing takes place, turning that note slurry into solid (or shaky) prose.

For most of us, ideation and synthesis demand different levels of focus, distinct forms of mental energy, separate muses. Perhaps your curiosity rises with the sun. You spill with ideas after breakfast. Yet you can't sit still and bang out your masterpiece until your partner heads to bed. You tell your friends you are a night person, but the truth is a little more interesting: your ideation is a lark, your synthesis is an owl.

The mistake (as usual) is thinking you are one person.

Observe not whether, but how you are an owl and a lark.

Then, spend the afternoon in the noblest manner: napping.