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Have You Ever Written in the Dark?

Lately, I’ve been reading author interviews on The Paris Review, and came upon this fascinating snippet from Nicholas Baker:

INTERVIEWER

Were you actually typing in the dark?

BAKER

Yes. I had a couple different laptops because they were not all that
dependable, and one of them had a slider bar. I could slide the screen
brightness down to almost nothing, so I was sitting in complete
darkness. The screen would have just the tiniest hint of phosphorescence
and a faint crackle of static electricity. I thought, This is an option
Dickens did not have.

INTERVIEWER

What did writing in the dark do for you?

BAKER

I’ve always been helped by sensory deprivation. I used to wear
earplugs a lot. Sometimes I would write with my eyes closed. But writing
in the early morning is different because you haven’t been able to see
anything for hours. I would get up and feel my way around. The only help
was the moonlight, if it was a moonlit night. You think differently if
you can’t see.


I’ve never tried writing in the dark, but it sounds like something I might try one of these mornings. Have you ever written in the dark?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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15 Comments

  • Yes! Esp if it's early morning or late at night, the screen is too darn bright. I will put a cover over it.

  • swatisays says:

    I too prefer to right in the night and hence generally up and awake by 2:00 am so that I can write till 6:00 after which the morning routine starts at my place.

  • Damyanti says:

    Thanks for stopping by and the comments, folks. I'm traveling at the moment with no access to my
    Laptop, so visits back and replies will happen the week after. All the writing I'm doing these days is in flights and buses, and I'd be happy to write in the dark as well if there were more hours in a day!

  • Disperser says:

    I'm not a touch typist, so I need to see the keyboard. I now have a lighted keyboard, but that still requires a lit screen . . .

    Bottom line, no.

  • Can't imagine writing in the dark like that, unless it's a few nonsensical scribbles I need to jot down real fast before forgetting!

  • I love macabrebutsweet's story! Great interview. I usually write with pen and paper and occasionally in low light but never in total or near-total darkness. Sounds like fun.

  • Yes, I had a great idea in the middle of a very boring movie at the theatre and wiped out my notebook and pen and wrote for about an hour. When I stepped out into the light my writing was everywhere but I loved what I wrote.

  • I've done it a couple of times and it was quite the experience

  • michelle says:

    I wonder to what extent writing in the dark would have an enhancing effect on the other senses?
    Writer In Transit

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  • klahanie says:

    Hi Damyanti,

    It does seem an intriguing concept. I do a lot of writing at night, but not in the dark. I can write dark stuff, but that doesn't count.

    I think I shall get under the covers with a pen and paper. See what happens.

    Gary 🙂

  • Angela Brown says:

    I tend to write at night but I can't say that I've written in the dark. I would imagine it would be a unique experience.

  • John Chapman says:

    The vast majority of my writing takes place when it's dark. The daylight hours are for reading, promotion, housework, the garden, walking and whatever project that interests me. Oh… and there's sleeping. That usually takes place between the hours of… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • No, I can't way I've ever written in the dark. Unless you count the times I've been clueless while writing.

  • YES! Oh night is the best time to write–when the kids and hubby are zonked. Granted, I've suffered from extreme insomnia in the last year, so a significant portion of my writing happened between 2 and 7 a.m. It's so easy to write when there's absolute stillness all around.

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