Sleep and the Writer’s Mind

All writers have experienced waking in the middle of the night with some of our best ideas. When that happens, we feel compelled to capture that inspiration before it floats away on a dream which is why many of us get so little sleep. It’s also why we keep small notebooks, cell phones, or even recorders within close reach. There are evenings we’re unable to shut our minds down, so sleep is elusive. These nights, I find, are the worst. As I’m not refreshed, anything spinning around in my brain is rarely quality content, gibberish for the most part. However, ignoring words determined to get out, I have learned, is a really bad idea.

A writer’s mind at bedtime is much like that of an unruly child. You can draw the blinds, close the Kindle, and turn the lights out, but the minute you shut the door fully believing that child will sleep, the covers are tossed aside and jumping up and down on the bed and all manner of pandemonium commences. A slumber party is organized and a cast of characters—Racing Mind, Self-Doubt, and their hyperactive bestie, Anxiety—join the mattress party. Popcorn is popped, soda is poured, and someone, probably Anxiety, turns on the music.

The party rages into the wee hours until finally, in desperation, you jot some of that useless content down. Racing Mind stops dancing, Self-Doubt, at least for now, stops talking, and Anxiety slinks away.

Sleep finally shows up and takes control, turning off the music, sweeping the popcorn from the sheets, and dimming the lights.

Words, at least for the time being, are silenced, and sweet oblivion ensues.

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