Monday, November 10, 2014

Night Write

20 years ago, when I was in college, I began waking in the middle of the night.  That habit has been a bane to me for two decades.  As someone who can't stand wasting time--and with five children in the mix--I wouldn't let myself nap during the day.  Instead I would let my sleep deficit accumulate until I could sleep in until 7:00 a.m. on weekends.  I know, I'm sick.

Or rather, I thought I was.

Me in my goggles as I write this post.
Kent has tried for the past two or three years to fix my sleep.  He's found a variety of supplements to swallow, a software program that dims my screen during dark hours, and some sexy orange goggles to block out blue light waves from sunset to sunrise.  Those things have made some difference to me.

This year, as I approach 40, I started allowing myself an afternoon power nap; sometimes I'd even feel so sleepy after taking kids to school, that I'd grab a full-hour morning nap.

Yesterday, Kent sent me the following article, which has changed my perspective on my insomnia "problem" so I now realize it is a creative gift.

Why Broken Sleep is a Golden Time for Creativity

When life started demanding way too much of my time a year ago, I began using my middle-of-the-night wakefulness to squeeze in more work.  Often, though, I found my brain being too "loopy" at that time to trust the work I was doing.  I would go back during daylight hours and edit emails or fix bookkeeping entries that didn't have great clarity.  I also often felt drawn to write on this blog during those hours, but felt like that was a waste of a gift of a few hours of productivity.

Now I know that not writing during these hours is a waste of a gift of creativity.

I've wanted to be a writer ever since fifth grade when I composed a short story about a plant that grew out of an illustration in a book.  The book was left lying open on a bedside table, and during the night hours, the vine took life, grew out of the pages, and slowly strangled the sleeper in the adjacent bed.  I'm not usually one for dark stories, but I really loved how that story came to life as I wrote.

Unfortunately, the strong, logical part of my brain has suppressed my interest in writing ever since high school, instead favoring work and checking off to-do lists.

Last weekend, I accompanied Kent on a business summit, anticipating two days of quiet solitude in the hotel room.  The second day, I decided to take a look at a novel I started writing over three years ago.  Back then, I had written all the way through the first paragraphs of Chapter Two.  The book has been forming in my mind since that time, so I decided on Friday to at least jot my ideas into an outline.  As I re-read the first chapter I wrote three summers ago, I realized it's actually quite good writing.  Or, at least, I was pulled into the story and wanted to see what would happen next!  So I picked up at paragraph three of chapter two, and started writing what would happen next.  The afternoon flew by as I wrote, researched, and wrote some more.  It was so renewing to get those words on paper.

It is no coincidence, I think, that Kent would send me the above-linked article two days later.  I now see the gift that my segmented sleep is offering me to pursue writing.  Those loopy hours are perfect for creating fiction instead of addressing real life.  I now have permission from myself to take a one-hour nap during daylight so I can write for a couple hours at night.  Maybe I'll even turn out a novel in the next three years!