Friday, February 10, 2012

Tis a Writer's life for me! -- Sleepless in San Jose

Progress on WIP, Forsaken Dreams:  Finished up Chapter 27 this week. (out of 35) Yea!! 

Over the years I've met a lot of different authors at conferences and book signings, etc.. and I was surprised to discover that many of them suffer from insomnia. Including yours truly. So, I began to wonder if this was common trait among creative people. Such as people in the arts who are mainly right brained like authors, artists, actors, playwrights, people who design furniture, etc.

According to the Cognitive Science Examiner, there was a study done by Healey and Runco in 2006 on children ages 10-12 that confirmed that creative children experienced a higher amount of sleep difficulties compared to regular kids.

I wonder why?  My problems began about twenty years ago when I entered my 30s. All of a sudden, I simply couldn't sleep. I had the worst time getting to sleep. And forget staying asleep. At first I thought it was hormones but I believe now it goes much deeper than that.  Although I'm able to fall asleep now pretty quickly, I never stay asleep. I wake up several times a night, look at the clock, get up for awhile, then try to fall back asleep. I've always told my husband that it seems like my brain is waking me up!  Like it can't stand to see me rest so it knocks on my consciousness over and over until I open my eyes!

You see I have one of those overactive brains. It's not brilliant, but it can think of a thousand things at once. Thoughts are zipping here and there, barely landing long enough for me to contemplate their meaning before the next thought leaps in.  It's like being in the middle of a hurricane of thoughts and ideas!  I have no control! I'm completely at their mercy. Yikes

On the other hand, my husband, who is a scientist and very much left-brained, can focus on a single thing for hours and hours. Me? I cannot even fathom that. I would get too bored.

I suppose God gave me this crazy brain so I could transport myself into another world and be able to see everything that's going on and write it down in story form. I love that! But the downside is that my brain sometimes refuses to leave that world. I mean, if that world is on a tall ship in the Caribbean with a handsome pirate and a warm breeze.. can you blame it?  I wouldn't leave either!  The problem lies in that my body is stuck here. Major bummer, huh? I thought so too.

I suppose I should give my brain a break. At 2:00 in the morning, when it is tapping it's fingers in impatience.. wondering how I could possibly sleep with all this adventure going on: battles to fight, damsels to rescue, seas to explore... I suppose I can't blame my brain for waking me up.   I would do the same thing!

So, if you ever happen to pass my house in the wee hours of the morning and you spot me floating by the window in my nightgown with a candle in hand, you'll know me and my brain are plotting some grand adventure in an exotic land that no doubt contains swashbuckling heroes and glorious tall ships!

How's your sleep these days?


  1. Fri Feb 10th,
    "Morning, MaryLu ... yawn, yawn !"
    Oh, my heart totally goes out to you !!! Not because I'm an author, but because I also have an "over-active" brain that has great trouble with 'shutting down'. I don't fall asleep quickly. But I do, wake up several times throughout the night ... and it is most annoying, to say the least !!! I have often wished, that I had an "on/off" button ... and believe me, I would switch it to "off" (at bedtime) ... "if" I could !!! The brain just seems to keep going in a thousand different directions ... and it is mega difficult to come to a stop !!! I still, think of my most favourite Bible verse: "Be STILL, and KNOW that I AM GOD" ! (Psalm 46:10). "Be STILL !!!" Oh, to 'be still' !!!
    Well, maybe this isn't good to admit ... but if I pray while I'm trying to go to sleep ... you can bank on it, I 'will' fall asleep !
    While you are 'Sleepless in San Jose' .... I remain 'Witless in Welland' !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You probably find that you are 'more' sleepless while being in the 'middle' of writing a novel ... when you brain is revved up and on the move. Take heart ... "this too shall pass". Once Forsaken Dreams is completed, you'll likely come to a sudden halt of sheer exhaustion !
    Hang in there my dear. Your brain, is providing us all with wonderful stories, and, we SO very much thank-you for that !!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Oh I can relate to this, and I am sooo not creative! Last night I could not keep my eyes open around 8:30 or 9:00, but by 10:00 I was wide awake. Go figure. Went to bed and still woke up between 3:00 and 4:00. And then the mind starts churning. I always think of Psalm 63:6 - "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night." LOL

    Oh the joys of middle-age! :-)

  3. I understand completely. My brain runs around here and there and yonder. All. The. Time.

    I'm one of the only people I know who dreams in third person. Weird, right? But oh so much fodder for stories!! :)

    Did you know that Thomas Edison was an insomniac?

  4. Hmm.. then maybe insomnia isn't connected to creativity.. maybe it's just a woman thing!! Wait a minute. Thomas Edison wasn't a woman.. I know. maybe it's because we are all geniuses!! That must be it. Problem solved. LOL

    Brenda.. I agree about the praying.. Satan would rather we sleep. :-) Linda, your night sounds very much like mine. uggg. sorry.
    And Sheri, third person, eh? That's a new one for me. Have you tried Fiction writing??

  5. WOW!
    I too am a writer, though unpublished, and I DO HAVE the hardest time sleeping or sleeping a whole night through.
    This is so crazy!
    I never thought about it this way.
    Sometimes I have to make up a story in my head just before I go to sleep, so I will fall asleep. Yet I still wake up through the night and add more to it.
    God is funny!
    Thanks for sharing with us, MaryLu.

    Shelby Z.

  6. This has bothered me too and over the years, I've done an informal poll (really, it was just asking any woman I know...)and have discovered that yes, indeed, it's a woman thing. Everyone I've checked with has a husband who is asleep when his head hits the pillow. Literally. No kidding. The moment the male head touches the pillowcase, BOOM. Out cold. (Of course, there is the stress thing, the over-active mind thing, the children-in-the-night thing - where they forget that Dad even exists - ... so much can affect our sleep.) Sigh. It's an interesting study ... so tonight when I am up in the wee hours, I'll be thinking of you MaryLu, and praying that some fantastic thoughts and storylines come out of it all. :)

  7. I feel for you, MaryLu. Although I don't usually have a problem going to sleep, I sometimes wake up and then stay awake for an hour or two. It's a good thing it doesn't happen every night or I'd be a mess going to work the next day. LOL! I don't know if this would help you or not, but I usually read to help me wind down before I turn out the light (no, I'm not saying the books are boring, just that they help me to relax :)

  8. Shelby, I used to do the same thing as a kid.. make up a story at night while I laid in bed. (where I was always the beautiful heroine, of course) Sometimes the story was so exciting, I didn't want to fall asleep. We writers are weird.

    Caroline, my husband is just as you described. He's out in 60 seconds and I'm left, listening to him snore. Sigh.. just doesn't seem fair, but I do think we women have much more on our minds.

    Angi, Yes, when I crawl into bed, that's my reading time. I open a book and usually read for a half hour to an hour before my eyes get heavy (no reflection on the story, like you said) That does really help me to fall asleep. It's staying asleep that seems to be the problem. Sigh.

    I'll think of you all when I'm up at night and know that I'm not alone! Too bad we don't live closer, we could have a pajama party!

  9. I am sure it would be better if I was sleeping somewhere else other than the floor! But that will soon be done and over with! I wanted to move so badly, but now that it is close, I so nervous about it!

  10. Hmm, this has me wondering, as I am a definite night owl. Sleep before midnight? No can do. 1? Eh. Usually around 2, or later. So annoying.

  11. It's normal to be nervous, Emma, even with changes that are good! I'm sure everything will work out wonderfully!!

    Freddikb, my Mom is like that.. can't fall asleep until after 2.. but then she has the luxury of sleeping in until noon! Most of us can't do that. And yes, it is annoying!
    I'm realizing this problem is more widespread than I thought..

  12. Sleeping, and staying asleep has always been an issue for me. I wake up at the craziest hours, and it drives me bonkers! My mom said that perhaps it is during these times that God is calling us to meditate on Him, since we were too busy for Him during the day. Sometimes I pray for everybody, and other times, I let my mind exhaust itself so that I could sleep.

  13. Eszter, that's a great point.. need to remember to focus on God during those waking moments.. :-)

  14. Well, before I hurt my back, I had a problem falling asleep. Once I was asleep, I would be awakened by hot flashes. Now that I have to take meds for my back, I fall asleep easily, but I wake up between 2am and 4am and can't fall back to sleep. Jack, too, falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow. Then I have to deal with his snoring and Norman's snoring. I have to elbow both of them to make them stop. I think women have more 'thinking' cells than men and have way too much on our minds.

  15. Debbie.. I couldn't agree more.. yes, we have more "thinking" cells.. and also women are more sensitive. I thought about this last night (while I was laying awake!) Things tend to bother us more.. upset us more than men. Like problems with kids or family issues.. Men can just shrug them off.. but not us.. I even get upset at certain commercials.. and sometimes if I've watched a particularly sad movie, I'm up all night. Geezz.. the price we pay for having big hearts, I suppose

  16. Yep, us women carry way too much on our shoulders. If it weren't for God, our families would be the death of us. lol

  17. I can't even begin to fall asleep til well after midnight, and then I end up sleeping really weird hours during the day. It is VERY annoying! My brain is definitely very active at night. It's when I think of all the things I forgot during the day, and I usually end up on the computer in the middle of the night. Once I finally fall asleep, though, I usually stay asleep.

  18. I can relate to this problem easily. For me, my mind came alive at night with ideas for stories I could write down, and I just couldn't stop! By the time I was still awake at 3:00 a.m. on a school night, it was one of the few times I could genuinely say, "Thank you, Mom, for barging without permission into my room annoyingly, as usual, and screaming at me to turn the lights off." I'm serious, no sarcasm meant. I really needed her to tell me that so I could sleep and, you know, keep sane. But once I was asleep, I was dead to the world until quite far in the late afternoon.

  19. The best sleep of the day is a nap. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning is a sweet delight. Waking up to by 6:30a.m. is not a happy camper moment for me. Since I need my day job, paper & pen by my bed helps keep the galloping horses of creativity from keeping me up all night.