I responded to a tweet yesterday from a writer who bemoaned her fatigue from lying awake the previous night, her mind springing from thought to thought…basically being a writer…when she craved sleep. I identified with her…as I’m sure many of us do. I call it monkey brain, when I climb into bed, lay my head to the pillow and feel the “little gray cells” revolt. They shun sleep, preferring to shift into that peculiarly “writerish” mode of hyperactivity where insights, observations and turns of phrase surge forth in a creative flood.

These moments can be productive…and inconvenient. It’s a love/hate relationship for me. I ask myself during these thought-torrents why they couldn’t be better timed…such as when I am sitting and staring at a blank screen, struggling for the ability to string two or three words together which could even vaguely approximate what it is I want to say. The basic decision is this: do I roll over and refocus my attention on getting some sleep, or do I get out of bed, go to my computer and work it through. Further complicating this decision is my status: I have a full-time day job and the sleep I rob myself of now will haunt me later at the office.

Past experience has taught me that trying to remember all those juicy thoughts in the morning only leads to frustration…if they’re not recorded as they occur, they tend to be lost forever. So my advice if you find yourself in a similar situation? Rise from your bed, boot your computer and grind it out. Get it all down. It might look like dreck the next day, but at least it will be there to suffer your judgement.

John

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