Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mr. Sandman is on Vacation

Quote of the Day:
If I'm trying to sleep, the ideas won't stop. If I'm trying to write, there appears a barren nothingness.
~Carrie Latet

How many of you get your ideas from dreams? Does your brain go on overdrive the second you lay down to sleep?

I’m curious because I’ve noticed that when I am up in the middle of the night, plugging away on one of my WIPs, there is almost always at least one writer buddy of mine doing the exact same thing. In fact, the middle of the night is the time it seems to be the easiest to get a hold of my friends, the time when we chat and email the most. Also, most writers I’ve asked rely on some sort of sleep aid to get to sleep at night. Because, like me, they suffer from that irritating habit the mind has of saving up every worthy thought and replaying it over and over as they try to sleep.

Like Ms. Latet said in the quote above, sometimes I will sit, staring at my computer or open notebook, and get nothing. But the second I lay down and close my eyes, a million thoughts start dancing through my head. Some persistant enough that I have to get up and write them down. Taking a shower or doing the dishes often loosens the mind muscles as well. But trying to get to sleep is the worst.

In fact, it’s so bad that I will often stay up until I can barely keep my eyes open, just so I will fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow (doesn’t usually work, but it does help). I assume this happens because when I try to sleep, my body is still, the house is quiet, I have nothing else to focus on. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t married…it took my husband a while to get used to my tossing and turning. On a good night I can fall asleep within an hour. A bad night it could take 3 or 4.

I also got in the habit of waking up constantly during the night (courtesy of my children) and have never really gotten over that. So I have very vivid dreams as well. Now, this is kind of cool. I’ve gotten a lot of really good ideas this way. But the preliminaries of falling asleep are a bit irritating.

So I was wondering how many other writers are insomniacs…or at least night owls, like me. Do you fall right to sleep or toss and turn for hours? If you have learned how to shut your brain off…share your secret! :D


Iapetus999 said...

No insomnia here, but last night I had a dream where I literally thought, "this would be a great story--please remember it, please remember it"

I don't remember it at all :(
I only remember what I thought about it.

I don't use a sleep aid, I use a wake-aid, something that keeps me from being drowsy all day.

Melissa said...

I'm a total night owl. My day really doesn't start until after 11am (it's an odd day I'm up this early)

I found the trick to shutting my brain off and falling asleep is reality tv or some other mindless show. I have to sleep with the tv on or I can't fall asleep.

TereLiz said...

When it's quiet in the evening and everyone else has gone to bed and I've gotten some distance between my quiet place and my hectic work day, that's when I do my best writing. I feel the most focused, even if I'm tired, and once I go to bed I can fall asleep much more quickly because my mind isn't whirling with everyday trivialities.
I just wish I could do it every night, but real life keeps getting in the way.

B.J. Anderson said...

I used to fall asleep in a second and sleep like a rock. Then I started writing hard core and that changed to some degree. Then I had kids and it ended completely. Now I stay up until midnight or 1:00 am. And I toss and turn. Lol, I'm glad I'm not the only one!!

Tess said...

you've said it perfectly. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that night or restful times are the few moments my brain is allowed to be quiet and left alone to wander. there's something magical about that edge of consciousness.

Anonymous said...

This exact thing happened the other day. My WiP was a mess, I deleted a ton of stuff and was very frustrated. Then a long chat with a friend. Then - mind in overdrive. I didn't "feel" like writing - so I read, meditated...all the things that relax me enough to sleep. Yeah, none of that worked. So I got up and wrote - then read some more. Finally, around 3:30am, I slept.

Fortunately this doesn't happen too often - but when it does, I can usually find a friend online to chat with!

Don said...

I think I'm just the opposite of most writers: I write first thing in the morning. Though I don't consider myself a morning person, I've never been much good staying up late.

I used to have a lot more trouble falling asleep, but due to some health issues I'm pretty much exhausted by the end of the day, so sleep comes quickly.

I do, however, have terrible problems with the people in my head if I'm unfortunate enough to be awakened in the night. I can never get back to sleep because of all the characters and plot lines running around up there.

Rebecca Knight said...

I don't sound like I have it as bad as you, but I definitely have this same issue :P. When I go to bed inevitably I have the "AH HA!" moment I've been waiting for all day. I've also learned from experience that if I don't get up and write it all out right then I either a) can't get to sleep, or b) forget it in the morning and am really, really mad at myself.

My husband is now used to me flicking on the light and scribbling, or scribbling quietly in the dark sideways over my notebook (doesn't work as well.)

My remedy to sleep a little better is to read someone else's book in bed so I have other people's ideas floating around ;). It works pretty well.

Lazy Writer said...

I am definitely a night owl. My husband hates it because he is the "get-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn" type. Once I do get in bed, though, I fall asleep quickly.

Eric said...

Yep, I'm very much a nightowl. I can't say my stories plague me when I'm trying to go to sleep, but sometimes it does seem like Mr. Sandman is too busy making appearances on Spiderman films. My biggest problem is ideas usually pop into my head when I least expect them, and it's usually when I don't have any way to write it down (like driving down the highway, taking a shower, etc).

Lady Glamis said...

Hey, I don't fight with shutting my brain off. I take those times to just wander and let the good stuff come... Mainly because of this, what I wrote about today on The Literary Lab. Check it out! It relates directly to this!

I am such a night owl, too. You're not alone!!!

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean! I bought myself a voice recorder, because I can't write fast enough when the juices get flowing.

I have a question. How long did it take from when you queried your agent to when you signed a contract with her?

WindyA said...

*raises hand* Insomniac right here! Most nights anyway. I am just like you, though, all my creativity doesn't seem to want to visit until well after 10:00 PM.

As for the how to get some rest? Well, if you get any good answers, please share. I got nuthin!

Weronika said...

Haha, Michelle--I'll join the little insomniacs group you have here. I often can write only at night when there isn't noise coming from the living room or the other parts of the house.

I need quiet music, a glass of milk or a cup of tea, and then I write, write, write, write, write, write, and write. :)

Let me know if you ever need a nightly buddy--we can share AIMs/emails.

Stephanie said...

Hi Michelle,
Yes, I am a night owl! I come to live after midnight and just got done folding a load of laundry...when I really think I should be writing!
So comforting to know I join other creative insomniacs!
In the quiet of the night, I feel inspired.
Sleepy Time Tea works for does doing an evening meditation by Bernie Seigel.
Hope your summer has been full of magical moments!