“Writing is deeper sleep than death. Just as one wouldn’t pull a corpse from it’s grave, I can’t be dragged from my desk at night.” Franz Kafka
About three days ago, I visited my dentist. For almost a year now, I’ve been suffering from this TMJ related issues which got considerably worse over the course of the pandemic. Dental-reasons aside, the doctor pointed to a lack of proper sleep and my anxiety as the primary reason for all my health issues; claiming the two overlapped greatly.
“How long’s it been since you had a proper night’s sleep?”
“Years, probably,” I chuckled humorlessly.
“Is it work that’s keeping you up?”
“Not always. Although sometimes, inspiration does strike me late into the night and I have to write at that moment, no matter what.”
“Well,” he said and had clicked his tongue in clear disapproval. “That’s got to change.”
I adopted the habit of writing late at night very early on, and it’s an (unhealthy) routine that stuck. Yes, the satisfaction of penning out 1600 words at 1 a.m. is practically euphoric, but then spending the next morning as a partial zombie isn’t great.
This practice stretched on for years and gets particularly worse during NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo somehow translated to No-Sleep-November for me. Every NaNo was made up of sleepless nights and drowsy mornings. I’d spend the day diligently but tiredly going about fulfilling my duties, and then the night, furiously typing away into my laptop with a zombie-like grin on my face.
Was I happy each year? Yes. But running on 5-6 hours of sleep a day for a month, or even the ones that follow spent editing and revising, is NOT worth it. I’m only 23 years old but I feel the toll that’s taken on my body and mind – and as a writer, the last thing you want is to run into a creativity stump because of over-writing.
Inspiration can strike whenever and wherever. It’s sometimes out of our control – but I firmly believe that if writers put their minds to it, they can control the flow of their creativity and adopt a healthier writing routine.
This is one of my Preptober resolutions. Over the course of this month, I’m going to get myself into a “writing regimen” of sorts.
First, I plan to fix my sleep cycle and this is something I’ve been putting off nearly all year (much to the frustration of my loved ones!)
Once upon a time ago, I was a morning person and I plan to bring back that part of me again. It sounds perfect in my head: rising with the sun, having a peaceful little yoga sesh, followed by 45 minutes of free writing before breakfast. Then, spending the last 30 minutes before bed drafting or writing down ideas in my journal for the next day, before giving myself a light’s out at 10:30 p.m. sounds idyllic at this point.
Settling into that routine is going to be challenging but I have a month to get a head start. After all, I want to be at the prime of my creative health too so I can write that killer final draft for my novel.
No-Sleep-November is over. Time to get that biological clock in order.
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