My Round One entry ‘labels’ got me through to the second round. This time the assignment was to write a persuasive essay with a maximum of 1,000 words, to a specific question. My question was “what’s the best time of day?”
Considering all my days tend to blend into one another these days I really struggled to answer this, let alone write a persuasive essay on the subject.
Despite my struggles I have made it through to the final round of the competition, which kicks off this weekend.
I have included the judges’ feedback below my essay and, as always, your feedback is very much welcomed.
Confessions of a Reformed Diurnal-being: A Persuasvie Essay
Both bewitching and empowering, and laced with black magic, I’m sure its mere existence is for discovery and debauchery.
It was during this strange time, the devil’s hour, that my teenage-self grew her wings. She dabbled in the world of adulthood, smoked her first joint, drank and vomited an entire bottle of vodka, and fumbled with a condom or two.
Up until my 27th birthday midnight was when everything wonderfully naughty and life-changing happened. Then I had children and discovered the fabled 6.30am. It’s just six and half little hours later, a mere quarter of a day further on, but I have discovered that this truly is the only time of day where enlightening things start to happen.
I didn’t plan on cheating with midnight. I didn’t choose to fall in love with 6.30am. It just happened. Eventually the morning sun chipped away at me for long enough like an ice sculptor perfecting their latest masterpiece.
I’d been exhausted for three years from the sound of two crying babies and never-ending night feeds. With my head firmly stuck under my much-loved duvet I prayed daily for the time when my boys would sleep in until at least lunchtime.
Then something changed.
At not-as-young-as-I-would-have-liked-months-old, my youngest began sleeping through the night. I no longer needed to stay up late for his final feed. I didn’t need to wake up numerous times to comfort him with a bottle of warm milk. As a result I started to go to bed at a normal, grown-up time.
Soon my body began waking itself up at 6.30am which would always be just moments before my eldest would sneak into my bed beside me. I would start my day listening to him listing all the reasons why mummy needed to get up immediately to make his breakfast.
By unleashing my new superpower of being able to wake up feeling like I was actually awake, I was ready to take on the world. I could finally manage to feed the household, get everyone in it washed and dressed, clean the kitchen, vacuum the living room and even read the boys a book, usually all before 10am.
Time-management expert and author Laura Vanderkam is also an advocate of the early riser and puts forward a great case for rising with the sun. In her book, What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio Trade, 2013), she explains that you are far less likely to be distracted during the mornings. She said: “There are going to be reasons why you can’t tackle a personal priority at 4pm – things have a lot less likelihood of coming up at 6am.”
I couldn’t agree more – where had this glorious time-zone been all my life? Becoming a morning person had made me so bloody motivated. I started to discover new things about the benefits of waking up early and now I really do feel more positive, productive, energetic and happy.
There are numerous academic reports out there showing that the early bird is far happier than their night owl counterpart; not only happier but also more alert and stimulated. In an article published by the Telegraph in 2012, it reported that scientists at the University of Toronto had found that people who preferred the evening were more prone to social jet lag, which is where a person becomes almost out of sync with social events. Have you ever woken up with that thick-headed feeling and had it follow you around like an unwanted stalker all day? Yeah, no one wants to feel like that.
On the flip side, as part of the same study which was published in the journal Emotion, research found that most people favoured the lifestyle of an early riser the older they became. Is that a bad thing? All those in favour of abandoning the nocturnal nature of their youth please raise your hand! I may be (getting) old but this singing lark is getting smug now.
The boys – my little rays of sunshine – have decided that 7am is the new 6.30am. So what does that mean for me? Basically I have 30 minutes of free time, every single frickin’ day, just for me. And as any parent of young children will tell you, 30 minutes of good-quality ‘me’ time is virtually impossible to find. If you are lucky enough to find it though it feels like winning the lottery.
“What can I do in thirty minutes though?” I hear you cry. Have a warm cup of tea. Enjoy a shower. Go to the toilet – on your own! Eat breakfast in peace. This sacred time isn’t just for parents though. You could work on your novel. Go for a quick run. Do some yoga. Read a book in bed. Count your blessings. And do it all without feeling like the walking dead.
Now in the mornings, during the hour of the gods, I marvel listening to the world waking up around me. Six-thirty in the morning may not be as adventurous as going to bed at silly-o-clock but at least now I finally have the energy to embark on whatever adventures come my way.
There’s no point going to the party if you’re only going to fall asleep when you get there, right?
Feedback from the Judges
What the judges really liked about “Confessions of a Reformed Diurnal-being”:
- You did a good job weaving together your personal experiences with objective evidence about how people interact with what time of day they wake up.
- Your essay is easy to read and well-organized; the anecdotes are detailed and relatable.
- You made good use of descriptive language in an essay style that doesn’t always prioritize that.
Where the judges found room for improvement:
- Although I really love kennings and wordplay, the proliferation of unnecessary hyphens in this essay weakened the innovative phrasings. I would have preferred more focus on answering the question about the “best time of day” rather than “when should you wake up.”
- The essay’s “counter-arguments” are murky because they are wrapped up in detailed anecdotes; in addition, softening the clinical “expert” opinions will help to keep the tone consistent.
- The essay does fine without the external links. Those could be left out so as not to distract or pull the reader out of the more lyrical moments.