I can sleep when I am dead…


…this…according to my internal clock (life of an insomniac) and the alarm clock that is my Muse (life of a writer)…motto of story = Drink more coffee!

Sleep is over-rated anyway…No seriously, before you lecture me on the importance of sleep, I rate sleep highly especially because it tends to elude me. Main reason # 1: I am an insomniac, irrefutable, incurable. Believe me I have tried everything from acupuncture to sleeping pills to sleeping herbs to lavender sachets on pillows to silk eye masks to white noise machines. I have just learned to accept that about myself. Reason # 2: My mind does not switch off…I can lie in bed for hours with my eyes closed and still sleep does not arrive. I think I need to send a “redirect all mail” to the Sandman as he has obvious issues with getting to me in time each night. Reason # 3: (and the reason that led me to writing this post) My muse drags me out from my sleep-starved state, usually just as I have finally fallen asleep, at the craziest hours with the best ideas and sometimes if I am lucky enough with the best scenes.

Funnily enough I can be sitting in front of the computer all day waiting for inspiration to strike and nothing happens. But come the hour between 3 -4 am and he won’t shut up. But don’t get me wrong I am not complaining. Thank goodness my Muse won’t shut up. But just once it would be nice if he kept human hours not cat hours. Now you can see why this blog is called “Wrestling the Muse”: He is usually trying to drag me kicking and screaming from a very sleep-starved state and I am usually wrestling to get back to sleep. Who wins? The Muse. Sorry Sandman. But my writerly Muse trumps you every time and kicks your butt to the curb…sleeping dust or no sleeping dust.

This was the scene in my bedroom this morning at about 4.45am. I know this was the time because when I was dragged from my sleep (which had only arrived at 3.15am) I looked at the clock to see if I had actually made it to past sunrise which my aching mental muscles prodded me into denying. What dragged me from sleep? My Muse and the first scene of my new WIP. I saw the scene as clear as if I watching it on a high-definition 3d cinematic screen. For about a minute I wrestled with my Muse and gambled whether if I rolled over and ignored it, I would be able to remember it when I woke up after sunrise. But the wrestling did not last long as I knew the gamble would come with the higher risk of me not remembering what I had seen. So without switching on the light, I grabbed my iPod touch and logged into my Evernote app (Not just a name-dropping plug…This app is amazing! My favourite note-taking/note-syncing app – seriously you should try it out!) and wrote exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye. I barely knew what I was writing as I was still in a 1/2 sleep/wake state. Then I rolled over and fell exhaustedly into sleep again. When I woke the second time this morning (this time after sunrise) I had the next 2 scenes ready to write as well. The Muse’s prodding was so strong that instead of my usual dreamless sleep I fell straight back into the scenes of my WIP.

So now I sit with the first three scenes, two new characters and very little sleep. But I am not tired. Instead I am high on adrenaline. The exact same way I get when watching a scary movie or after rigorous exercise is how I am feeling right now. It is early afternoon now and I am buzzing with adrenaline, excitement and anticipation. To be honest, the scenes that I dreamt were not how I was planning on starting the WIP. I had a total other beginning in mind or rather my conscious mind had another plan entirely. But my Muse / my Sub-conscious knew better this time. This beginning, coming from the depths of a sleep-starved mind is much stronger and more visceral in intensity than what I had planned in my conscious awake state.

Perhaps there is something to that scientifically speaking…Perhaps because our subconscious mind knows no inhibitions nor any doubts, what comes from these sleep-starved states is more pure and real than what we can plan in our wake states. Perhaps also it is because our conscious editor is not active in our sub-conscious self. We are only creative and instinctual creatures in this raw, sub-conscious state. Perhaps writers are all just lucid dreamers more in touch with listening to our subconscious selves. Perhaps we need to not fight our subconscious creative instincts with our conscious plans.

For me, as much as I can plan a story or plot a pathway on a map for my characters, rarely does my story or my characters stay on the path. I tend to always “colour outside the lines” and my best writing comes from these early morning wrestlings with my Muse. Funnily enough new stories always arrive when I am busy with another story. They never wait their turn. But then again I will take that over “searching and not finding” inspiration any day.

So on second thought I won’t send a complaint to the Sandman for missing my address yet again. Instead I am thankful for wrestling with my muse whether it be at pre-dawn or post-sunrise. I know the real problems will start when I am no longer being dragged from my sleep to write down that fleeting piece of inspiration, that one of a kind sentence or that crucial scene.

>>What about you? Are you often dragged out of sleep to write down that idea? How many ideas have you lost the tail end of because you rolled over and chose sleep over inspiration? Do your ideas for new stories wait their turns for you to finish the current WIP? Are we just slaves to our inspiration and creativity? Well as long as my inspiration / creativity / imagination/ sub-conscious / Muse keeps my notepad full of ideas and my stories full of new scenes than I am happy to be a slave to it. Anyway…I can sleep when I am dead.<<

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

11 Comments

  1. Hi Kim
    I love the article ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ and I totally resonate with it. My muse always seems to choose the early hours to make itself known, too. I envy you being a full-time writer. Writing is my passion.
    Many thanks too for visiting my blog and adding it to your link for related articles. Good luck always.
    Blessings from Izzy

    • Writing full time has its moments like any job but the satisfaction and enjoyment far outweigh the difficulties…It is the best damn job in the world. 🙂
      I enjoyed your blog and love meeting new people on the bloggosphere so happy to link your post.

  2. Oh my goodness, yes–if I’m not awake because I’m certain the noise I just heard was the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, I have a character yelling at me to get up and write down their story. It never ends! Great post, Kim 🙂

    • Lol….Zombie Apocalypse 😀
      Patti – I love you to bits because you always put a smile on my dial 🙂

  3. I can totally empathize with the insomnia – something I do ‘enjoy’ at frequent intervals. I occasionally manage to make something of it – I find the fact I actively try to do something will sometimes send me off though, so I am not such a genuine case-study. And the adrenaline is great when it happens . . . when it happens . .
    Great site, found lots of fascinating links. Hope to meet up on some of them 🙂
    @AuthorsAnon

    • Thanks and lovely meeting you you 🙂 Glad you found the site useful. For me… I tend to write or read more often than not…but then I get so pulled into the story (either writing it or reading it) that I don’t want to fall asleep. A catch-22! 🙂

  4. Sleep. A constant struggle. Like you my brain just works overtime. there is no off button. I have tried to beat insomnia a few times. Just when I think I’m over it, it sneaks back. I think it just with the territory some time, and must just be accepted.

    • Yes like you I have come to the point of releasing that there is no point in fighting it anymore…I am an insomniac and just need to grabs naps here and there when I can…but it is the falling asleep part that is so difficult for me…then on top of it I am a very light sleeper so every pin-drop wakens my slumber…It is a never-ending struggle! 🙂

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