Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sleeping and Writing

When I was in graduate school, my motto was "you can sleep when you're dead." I wrote this out on the back of something (probably something important that I needed to turn in) with a big, black sharpie and hung up it up above my desk. It kept me going. Incidentally, it's the same advice that I give to my advanced placement high school students when they are looking on the verge of a complete mental breakdown. They think I'm being funny. I know that I'm really just preparing them for college....
But actually, this motto applies more to being a writer than anything else. Not because I have to pull all-nighters anymore, but because the mind of a writer never shuts off. Never. So sleeping can become an issue. Either it's waking up in the dead middle of the night with the realization that there was a typo on page 212 of the manuscript I just sent to an agent and now my life is over (so I can't go back to sleep....), or not going to sleep in the first place because I'm laying awake trying to figure out the elusive plot twist that my main character is about to run into and how he's going to handle it. Because I never stop thinking about the book I'm working on at the moment, inconveniences like sleeping, eating, having a social life, etc, can really get in the way.
To balance it all out, though, I often have dreams that really help out my writing. The catalyst for this last book came straight from a dream. Nothing from the dream actually ended up in the novel, but it set the tone for the book as a whole. How crazy is that? And that strange twilight space between sleeping and waking is probably one of the best tools for a writer if they can learn how to harness and manipulate it. I will be thinking about my characters (because I Always am, remember?), but I'm still halfway dreaming, so the characters can just sort of run around on their own while I mentally sit back and wait to write it all down when I finally wake up for real. It can be beautiful.....
So, sleeping and writing- a curse or a blessing? Thoughts?

                                   (Ahem, one of my dogs, Twinkie, clearly is not a writer....)

1 comment:

  1. Hardest part - getting the information from the dreams down on paper and not forgetting any of the "good" stuff :)


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