A Blessing or a Curse

I often wonder if being a writer is a blessing or a curse. It’s 1:00 am Tuesday morning. Two hours ago I took a pill that was supposed to help me sleep. I guess my creative muse didn’t know that because for the last two hours (and even before that) she’s been bombarding me with ideas and reminders.

This isn’t the first time she’s done this to me. For over thirty yeas she’s picked the most inconvenient times to come up with ideas. Tomorrow (actually, make that today) I have to get up early for an appointment. I’d like to arrive looking refreshed and alert. But no, my muse wants to remind me that I need to order some bookmarks, need to contact my VA (virtual assistant), need to come up with something to entice people to my table when I’m at the Bookman Book Store in Grand Haven on Saturday, and, oh yeah, she keeps insisting that I need to introduce my villain earlier in my wip (work in progress).

She (my muse) has some ideas on how I can introduce said villain, but she’s leaving it up to me to smoothly work this person into the story, especially since I’m already a quarter of the way into the story. Which means…go back and rewrite.

I sometimes wonder if I’m alone with this over active (at night) muse, or if other writers face the same problem.

I’ve tried various methods that are supposed to help one sleep.

  1. Get plenty of exercise during the day
  2. No TV or electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
  3. Take a hot bath or shower before going to bed.
  4. Drink hot milk before bed. (I sometimes spike mine with a little bourbon)
  5. Make a “To do” list so the ideas don’t keep running through your head.

Here are a few suggestions from “experts”: Huffingtonpost-15 ways to fall asleep faster

lifestyle/Unable sleep?-Eleven-ways to get to sleep

cnn.com//Fall asleep faster


Okay, I’ve found some of those ideas work, at least sometimes. But they don’t always work. (Not if my Muse doesn’t want them to work.)

I also have to admit I often like the results of these “hard to get to sleep” sessions. My Muse does come up with some good ideas. It’s quiet, no external interruptions, and she can “talk” to me.

So here I am. It’s now 1:30 am. I have this written and I’m just about finished with my mug of “spiked” hot milk. I’m going to try the bed again.

By the way, if you’re near Grand Haven, Michigan Saturday, September 10th, I’ll be at the Bookman Book Store from 10:30 – 12:30 along with Patricia Skalka and Linda Watkins. Stop by and say “Hi.” Bookman Book Store

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10 Responses to A Blessing or a Curse

  1. Hi Maris,

    You aren’t alone. I often suffer from insomnia and even at the best of times manage limited sleep. The suggestions you mention are good ones. Herbal teas are helpful if not imbibed too close to bedtime.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Hi Jacqueline. I have the herbal teas (3 different types, in fact.) My problem is when I realize sleep is evading me, it’s really too late to drink tea. (But I have done so on several occasions. Success rate is only so-so, but tea, at least, has no calories and it tastes good.)

  2. Melissa Keir says:

    My muse does that too… but then so does the inner Melissa who worries about things that really don’t need to be worried about. The other thing I sometimes do when they are at their finest, is to get up and write something down that they are bugging on. Often, that’s enough to placate them and put them to sleep.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Melissa, I agree, getting up and writing down what I keep thinking about helps…which is how this blog came to be. (But I still didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m.)

  3. Joe Novara says:

    I don’t fight it. I try to leave a wip at juncture point and count on my brain somehow working on it while I sleep. If I wake during the night…I let if flow for a while and make sure to write it down. If I wake in the morning with the story percolating, I can jump out of bed to the computer and at least get the main ideas down.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Joe, sometimes that works for me, but more times than not, when even the pills don’t work, it’s because my mind has been over-stimulated and I’m trying to solve (or think about) way too many things. Thank goodness I got a good night’s sleep the next night. We’ll see about tonight.

  4. Jessi Gage says:

    *Raises hand* This is me.

    Well, it was me. I struggled with insomnia since I was a teenager. It’s always stories that circulate in my head. Sometimes the to-do list crowds in there too.

    I take a Benadryl every night to help me get that drowsy feeling, but sleep coming before 2 hrs was hit or miss.

    I found a doctor 3 years ago that diagnosed this as “ruminating thoughts” and presecribled low-dose Paxil, to be taken at bedtime. It’s only 20 mg and doesn’t have any noticible side effects and it WORKS!

    Paxil + Benadryl at bedtime has helped me get my usual fall-asleep time down to 30 min. This diagnosis has been a GODSEND!

    I guess the Paxil disrupts the loop of thoughts that keep going around and around. I can actually feel my mind starting to spin, but I can now make the choice to quiet it. It’s something.

    Really nice post. A lot of people will be able to relate.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Oh my, Jessi, it sure sounds like we have the same “condition.” I like the diagnosis: ruminating thoughts. Yes, that sums it up. And, like you, I often take an antihistamine (generic rather than Benadryl) or a low dose of Xanax, which I believe acts the same way as the Paxil. I don’t do this every night, just when sleep refuses to come, and usually one or the other works. But some nights (the one I just wrote about) nothing seems to work. Glad you found a cure.

  5. My biggest sleeping issue is if I go to sleep too early I wake up a few hours later and then the brain can’t shut off. Better I just stay up late.
    Have a fun time at the book signing!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Lucy. I hope the rain doesn’t keep people away from the bookstore. And I understand what you mean about waking up after a few hours sleep and having trouble shutting off all of the ideas. I hope you’re having a great time “out West.”