Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is Insomnia a Given for Writers?

Many writers will tell you that they stay up late into the night working on their manuscript, often compelled by forces beyond our control. Ideas come flooding in just as you're about to drift off; or that word that you've been trying to think of that means "pixielike," but works better since you're not writing a children's book.

I have the very real potential to be that writer. Always more of a night owl, I could easily slip into the habit of writing from approximately midnight to 3:00 am, getting more accomplished in those three hours than I do in a normal eight-hour day.

Oh, it's not just the constant interruptions from the phone, the UPS driver, or the neighbors; nor is it simply my children, who need my attention once they're home from school. No, it goes way deeper than that. This is instinct on the most basic level... just like it was years ago when I would clean my apartment late at night, with my walkman on my head, slightly frustrated at having to leave the vacuuming for the light of day.

Instead, I force myself to get up and stay up at 6:00 am when my first child gets up for school. I spend a little time with my hubby, walking him to the door like the little woman I fancy myself to be, then I continue with the next round of getting kids ready. Throughout the day, I alternately work on my book and field the interruptions, while my evening is filled with the togetherness (and craziness) that is the norm for healthy, active families.

Late in the evening after the kids are in bed, is the only time of day I can really spend with my husband. Who I'm crazy about. So I do. I ignore the fantastic new ideas that pop into my head, haphazardly jotting them on sticky notes instead of typing them into my book; praying that I'll remember tomorrow what I meant.

By 10 pm, I'm exhausted; toothpicks are holding my eyes open. By 10:30 I'm wide awake, my second-wind having kicked in. But the rational me--the one who realizes that to stay up would put me on the opposite schedule than my family, which I would surely regret for days when my body has to readjust--admonishes myself to "just cut it out and go to sleep now."

Which is what I just told the kids two hours earlier.


  1. Loved the "little woman" comment, far from what I see you as being. As far as sleep is concerned, just wait until menopause kicks in...OMG. "To sleep, perchance to dream", now I am quoting Shakespeare, scary Ha-Ha. Persevere don't be discouraged, I know you are able.

  2. Thanks... love the encouragement, and a little Shakespeare is always a good thing--although I am not looking forward to menopause! I'd rather take your word for it!


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