Courtesy Wiki Commons

It’s pretty much a romantic ideal. The dedicated writer or the voracious student hunched over a desk, illuminated by a single light source, in the dead of night. I’ve pulled all-nighters myself, in the past. And there are times, these days, where I am up working on something past midnight. But they are becoming fewer and farther between, which might be a good thing. As much as it might sometimes be necessary to burn the midnight oil to meet a deadline or solve a problem, this solution is really only a short term one.

Midnight oil is a fuel source that certainly helps in closing the gap between where you are and where you want your work to be, but it also burns you out. Provided you are sticking with the sort of schedule that sees you being productive throughout the morning and afternoon with the evening off, the morning after burning the midnight oil can be extremely challenging. Your levels of energy might be lower than normal. Some people are more irritable. Others will be much less productive, in opposition to the productivity that came about in the dead of night.

I probably shouldn’t speak in sweeping terms about the reactions other people might have. Individuals, after all, react to things in many different ways. Like I said, not everybody follows the same schedule. Third-shifters and folks who pull double shifts burn the midnight oil all the time. I guess what I’m driving at is that disruptions of the schedule by which you usually operate can throw all of your rhythms off.

Writers take a lot of different fuels and convert them into words: caffiene, cheese, positive reviews, sunshine, whiskey, angst, and so on. Midnight oil, while another possible source of fuel, in my experience it doesn’t burn as clean as some of the others. I’m curious as to what others have experienced, however. How often do you burn the midnight oil? What sort of residue does it leave on your systems? Do you enjoy pulling an all-nighter when you need to, or do you dread it?