Robbi’s Guide to Nocturnal Productivity

Robbi is a raccoon.

By which I mean, she comes alive when the sun sets and kicks into full gear when the most of us are ready to climb into bed. Her natural creative sweet spot is 10:00pm -2:00am. We’ve known this for a long time, but in the interest of spending time with her family by being awake during roughly the same hours, Robbi has behaved less like a raccoon and more like a prairie dog for most of the past decade. Except during stretches of intense creative production that demand nothing but her best and most efficient creative output.

We find ourselves in such a stretch.

The books in The Real McCoys series are long (336 pages) and illustration-heavy (roughly 1,000 individual drawings in each book). The number of hours required to illustrate each is patently absurd, and the only way Robbi can manage the feat is to abandon normalcy and work through the night. Every night.

Here’s what her desk looks like right around 3:00am.

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I am wired like a boring old human being conditioned to mirror the path of the sun. Which means I completely decompensate as 8:00pm rolls around.  I’ve always marveled at Robbi’s nocturnal prowess, wondering how she manages it. I woke this morning with the answer. In the dead of night, Robbi decided to document her current method for keeping the Sandman at bay. I present it for you here. Lest you decide the time has come to create 1,000 illustrations:

Recommendations for your next all-nighter (by Robbi):

1. V8 + Energy Drink:

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I don’t know what’s in this stuff but it seems to be working better than multiple cans of Coke and piles of Almond Joys. It gives the impression of being healthy by saying it has a serving of vegetables and fruits in it along with B-vitamins. Added bonus: very cool packaging design. All four flavors are delicious but don’t expect to find any at the C-town Redner’s because I cleaned them out. A steady dose of energy without the crash.

2. Sweetzels Ginger Snaps:

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I did not realize how effective the actual act of chewing can be against falling asleep, especially when it feels like you are chewing little dollops of granite. (There is a reason Almond Joys are more effective than Mounds.) This particular brand of ginger snaps is not only brain-rattlingly crunchy, they also have a nice sharp ginger bite (“made with real ginger”!) When Matthew couldn’t find this brand, he purchased a different brand, which got soggy by 4am and had no gingery bite (and were much more sugary tasting). I gave him exact directions on where these could be found at the store, so don’t expect to find any at the C-town Redner’s because I cleaned them out of these too.

3. Podcasts:

I have three podcasts I am slowly burning through.

a. Lovett or Leave It :

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Features hilarious former speechwriter for Obama who also happened to graduate from my alma mater with a math degree seven years after I graduated from there with an English degree. Which is to say, even writers don’t waste their time with English degrees. Also hosted by other Obama insiders. Funny, smart, engaging, but probably only if you’re a lefty.

b. Pod Save America :

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This basically has the same line-up as Lovett or Leave It and is equally smart and entertaining but with fewer silly games. Slightly more wonky but still goes down quite well with ginger snaps.

c. MizMaryland : Soul Force Politics :

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I happen to know Heather Mizeur, who ran for governor a few years back. She started this podcast to get conscience and “soul” back into politics. Earnest as hell but refreshing to hear people working for change without cynicism and with a great deal of hope. Loved her chat with firebrand Barbara Mikulski and great to hear her talk across the aisle with Gov. Hogan. Looking forward to more, there’s only three episodes so far.

4. The Hamilton: An American Musical Soundtrack  

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I’m not late to this game! I swear! You all might be totally over this by now, but I gotta say when it’s late and you’re feeling done, crank up some Yorktown and get the fuck back up again.

5. Photoshop

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If your all-nighters do not involve Photoshop, then they will not be nearly as fun. Highly recommended.

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And there you have it. Perhaps now that this intelligence has been shared, scores 336 page, 1,000 illustration middle grade novels will spread like wildfire across this great land. But somehow I doubt it. Something tells me that Robbi is able and willing to stay up all night and thrive not because of the above list of worthy diversions and delights.

It’s because she is a raccoon.

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