Like many folks, I keep a pencil and paper by the bedside so when story-provoking thoughts come to me at night, I can write cryptic notes. This paper-by-the-bed habit began back in the days when I was a stressed Recruitment Manager. A solution to a problem would occur to me when I was lying there, and I’d stay up for hours, afraid I’d forget the brilliant concept that slid in when my mind was less congested. Once a reminder made it to paper, I could sleep again.
It was easy to keep up the practice when I started writing regularly, so when a good idea formed like a cartoon bubble emanating from my mind at 1:30 or 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., I’d roll over, scratch it down and let it go until the morning.
Lately though, after I write things down, I remain awake. I know. It’s an age thing. But having come to anticipate the insomnia that snaps my turn-on switch when the rest of the world is quiet, rather than sighing in exasperation and yanking at the covers, I tune my thoughts to my current writing project. Each night I probe places where a story line doesn’t flow, or where a character lacks depth. Instead of plumping my pillow, I set myself to imagining layers or creating complexities to improve where important pieces are lacking.
During these pre-dawn hours, it is as if the story recognizes my brain has time, and treats it as a landing pad for creative twists I may not have thought of during the day. Delicious metaphors arrive as if snuck in by welcome burglars. When I finally fall back asleep, it’s with a sense of a midnight triumph.
After nights like this, I wake up tired, but never grouchy. Before day takes over I rip the notes from the pad and head to the computer, accountable to this job as facilitator to the forming story; my obligation to record the action before it drifts from my brain.