My desk is cleared, I have my favorite pen (after testing many for weight and texture), a brand new notebook, kids out of the room and I decide to work on my novel. Nothing comes.
I can work on plot elements, story structure, research details, but the creative writing does not happen on demand. When my brain is active, alert and ready to go, this is the time I can observe and take inspiration, think of different angles and solve character problems. It's only when my brain is switched off, in that soft space between wake and sleep that the narrative starts to flow.
I hop into bed, longing to just pass out, but thinking I'll just jot down a few notes before I drift off; before too long my head drops down and I have that quick moment of not being here. When I shake my head to wake myself enough to put down the pen and turn off the lamp, I realise I have already written pages of narrative, it just seems to flow. I think the key here is I don't over think what I am writing. I don't put up my own mental obstacles to block the story from moving forward. I get out of the way of my characters. I just write.
Perhaps this is where the theory of keeping a journal of dreams comes from. There may be a few plot ideas pop up from a bizarre dream, but possibly it is where you allow those words to lead when you keep writing in that 'not quite back in reality' space.
So alert time is for planning (and blog writing) and those times I'm too tired to write are for, well, writing.