- Books, Literature, and Writing
Writers Sleepless Nights
The Empty Bed
Sleepless Nights - for Everyone?
I never thought I would need a disclaimer. If you've read the things I write you would agree, however, (is there always a however or but) I think I need one now.
Not every writer has sleepless nights. Not every night is a sleepless night for all writers. However, (there it is again) there are many sleepless nights for writers. These are not of a writer's choosing in most instances but they do happen and they are annoying.
Being a Writer
A writer's mind is always working. It really isn't a conscious choice, its just a part of the trade. If you aren't a writer you may have trouble understanding but if you are a writer you'll know exactly what I mean.
For example, an ordinary person takes a walk and looks at all the beautiful things they see and just continues to walk. A writer on the other hand has a mind kind of like a steel trap and everything he sees is a potential subject to write about. That little spider you hardly even notice could be an article about air breathing anthropods or maybe tarantulas like the goliath birdeater tarantula. Then there's always the web, I mean of course the spider's web. How their beautiful webs all begin with a single thread and end up an intricate web that traps food. Oh, you've finished your walk already and we're still looking at the spider web!
The writer may not be the best conversationalist but he knows how to put pen to paper and express himself. He expresses himself so well that after reading his work you will often be in awe of what you've read. The writer never stops. I mean he writes over and over again, its in his blood.
Writers don't just write books, though if you've ever read one you know how good it can be. They write poetry and prose. They write essays and yes, they write movies and TV shows. Have you ever watched a TV show and thought, "where in the world do they come up with this stuff?" The answer of course is in the writer's mind.
Now I can't really talk to the professional writer who's writing all those wonderful things I just mentioned. I'm talking about the struggling writer who may or may not be famous one day. The writer who just feels he has to write no matter what it is. So how do sleepless nights enter the picture?
You're up with the moon
Sleepless nights are known as insomnia. Experts say that sleep problems, like sleeplessness, can be avoided by recognizing what's keeping you awake. They suggest not overeating before you go to bed, or not drinking too much coffee. Stress and relationship problems can cause sleep problems. According to health.usnews.com, "Scientists think of the brain as having two competing systems that govern wakefulness, says Ralph Downey III, chief of sleep medicine at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. One vies to keep you awake, and the other beckons you to sleep."
It is estimated that over 100 million people a year suffer from sleeplessness. Now, I know they're not all writers, but I have a feeling quite a few of them are.
Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the writer knows what's keeping him awake. He knows the part of his brain that is vying for him to stay awake. It's not depression or cold sweats, its not his age, its not a lot of things. What it IS is writing. He lies in bed ready to sleep and all of a sudden he thinks of that great story he wants to write.
Are You Sleepless or a Night Writer?
There's a giant of a man talking to a little girl, hmm, I could weave that into a tale of horror or a touching story about the love between the two. He thinks, "I'll write that down", then, no if I turn the light on I'll never get to sleep, I'll just remember it. Then all of a sudden he remember something that happened today that would make a great short story. He could flesh it out in no time and make it great. He looks at the clock. He went to bed at 11:00 p.m. and now its midnight. Not too bad. He can get to sleep soon.
Then he thinks about that old gent down the street and how his children are trying to take care of him. That would be a great piece about aging and senior care. He's really a happy guy and so pleasant, the writer thinks he might even be able to interview him or his relatives. They are a friendly family and what they are going through is happening everywhere. He could gather statistics about ageing and what portion of the population is ageing now. Wait, he thinks, I'm supposed to be going to sleep so I can do this in the morning. Okay, I'll get up and write a few things down so I don't forget. Of course the pad and pen have disappeared so now he has to get out of bed to get it. After finding the pad and pen he writes down all the thoughts he's had so far and heads back to bed.
Satisfied now he looks at the clock and its 1:00 a.m. Okay, I'll say my prayers and off to sleep I go. But wait, prayer in the world today. What has happened to religion? How many people still go to church, do they keep God in their every day life? He could write a piece about religion in America versus religion in other countries. Then, there's always Islam. Lots to write about that and people would be interested. After all, Islam is in the news everyday. Or he could turn it into a piece about terrorism.
Hold it. This is night time, he's in bed, and he's supposed to be sleeping. Do you see the pattern here? A writer's mind is a blank slate and when the chalk starts to move the writer is thinking. Its really unstoppable no matter what time of day or night inspiration strikes. By the way its 2:00 a.m. and our writer friend still has not gone to sleep.
Quotes from Famous Writers - Food for Thought
"I write for the same reason I breathe -- because if I didn't, I would die." Isaac Asimov
"Nighttime is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep." Catherine O'Hara
"At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night." H. P. Lovecraft
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Saul Bellow
“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekhov
"It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way." Ernest Hemingway
"It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous." Robert Benchley
Stephen King and the Short Story
On the Other Hand
On the other hand, many great writers say they did their best writing at night! Hmm, a Catch 22?
Nicholas Sparks says he writes all hours of the day and night. Jack Kerouac said he wrote by candle light mostly at night, midnight to dawn. Susan Sontag said when she writes she forgets everything else; she forgets to eat and forgets to sleep. Just a sampling.
So what are we to take from all of this? Do writers have sleepless nights? Most definitely. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? That my friend depends on the writer and the writer's circumstances. There are no rules to being a writer, oh there are rules on how to write but not on being a writer. Its what's in your head that counts. Only you can control your writing. You can write to tell a story or to explain yourself, you write to write.
So, whether your nights are sleepless or the time you do your best writing, keep writing.
STEPHEN KING: "You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair, the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page."
Thank you for reading my meandering hub. If it eases your mind, it was written because of a sleepless night last night. All of your comments are welcome and I look forward to reading them.
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