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Ultimate smackdown: sleep vs. writing

One of the trickiest things about juggling a full-time job and writing is trying to find the time — and the brain power — to write. I come home from work physically and mentally drained, and it is all too tempting to tell myself, “Tomorrow. I’ll write tomorrow — when I’m [insert excuse here: feeling more energetic, feeling more inspired, don’t have to be up early the next day].” The problem is, tomorrow comes and the cycle begins all over again, and next thing I know, a week (or two, or three — gah!!) has gone by and I haven’t been writing. When I finally do get back to it, it’s painful and frustrating, and my muse is off in the corner of my (right) brain, snickering and taunting me.

“Well, if you’d just written when I told you to, you wouldn’t be banging your head against the wall right now.”

Like most muses, mine likes to make her appearance at the most inconvenient times. In the shower. In the car. At 9:30 in the evening, just when I’m trying to shut off my brain and all devices with blinking screens. And then I’m faced with the proverbial Sophie’s Choice. Do I heed her call, or do I ignore her for tonight, get to bed like a normal person, and get my 8 hours of sleep (because we’re talking Night Of the Living Dead if I don’t get my 8 hours)?

Lately, it seems, I’ve been choosing my muse. She’s got me wrapped around her little finger.

Last night, I promised myself I’d get to bed by 11. I could sleep in a little today (Happy 4th, everyone!), so I was going to let myself stay up a little later — with every intention of getting the full 8 hours of sleep and getting up sometime around 7. But you give the ol’ muse an inch and she takes a mile. I indulge her in dusting off a piece of Hunger Games fan fiction that I’d started writing the other day, thinking it would be a quick one to finish, since it was meant to be a drabble (quick fanfic definition: a drabble is a very short piece, usually less than 1000 words), and before I know it, I’m looking up at the time and it’s 12:30. AM. Oh dear, I’ve gone over my intended bedtime. Again.

I know at some point I’ll need to tip the scales in the other direction and focus more on sleep. It will mean ignoring my muse and steeling myself against her pouts and childish whining; it may even mean her abandoning me for several days or weeks. The latter is always a fear of mine. It’s as though I’m stalked with this irrational fear of forgetting how to write if I skip even one day. Irrational is the key word there. I know that won’t happen; I’ve been writing my entire life and I haven’t forgotten to do so yet (let’s hope that never gets tested :p). That said, it’s still a fear that weighs heavily on me, and I think the best thing I can do is try to strike that balance of taking care of my body and mind by giving it the proper amount of sleep, and nurturing my muse so she doesn’t feel ignored.

And maybe, just maybe, I can train her to come at more convenient times. I haven’t been able to boss her around yet, but I’ll keep trying ;).

Now if you’ll excuse me, the muse is ordering me to get back to outlining novel #2. But hey, at least she’s visiting me early today.

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About writejenwrite

Silicon Valley marketer by day, novelist-in-training by night--running addict, foodie, bookworm, pop culture enthusiast, and aspiring philanthropist in between.

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