I'd like to sleep now, please and thanks. NOT being able to sleep is torture. When I was not working for six weeks, and told I needed to rest and recover from a big cancer surgery, my brain would hurt as I ticked off the minutes and watched the too-bright moon outside the window, assuming that all of San Francisco was blissfully asleep as I tossed and turned.
Writing Life tip: I get some of my best writing ideas when I am trying to sleep at night. Having Post-Its and a small notebook in a drawer by my bed, with ample pens that actually work (versus old crusty ones cadged from a long-ago travel assignment) are useful tools for capturing these ideas -- it probably helps me rest easier when I've cleared the idea decks, too. Often, an idea makes its way into an essay or piece. Which makes me wonder how many ideas I may have lost before setting up this basic but critical routine.
I shared the above writing tip this month in the Grotto’s monthly newsletter. (The Grotto is a work space and community for writers. SF-based.) At first read, it may sound like something that brings efficiency and organization to a daily (nightly?) routine. While it does help for work flow, I appreciate how it gets ideas out of the brain, which has a calming effect that slows me down, so that I can eventually drift off to sleep. I need help with my rapid fire worries and thoughts at night probably 75% of the time, because I still am learning how to picture thoughts as leaves that are flowing down a beautiful NorCal stream.
(Does brilliance really happen in calm minds?)
I am not a calm person. Never have been! But I like to look for ways to lower my stress (maybe I am keeping women-centric publications in business), which does help bring slivers of calm to brain and body. All that hopefully helps with the overall health outlook and outcomes.
When I was DESPERATE to calm my hamster wheel brain, it was because my mom was seriously ill and in a series of depressing hospitals and care homes. It's easier to meditate if the narrator coincidentally has a calm voice -- bonus if he or she is from the UK! (I love me some accents, which does get us into fantasy territory but I digress!). Meditation (via British folks talking in such soothing tones) finally “clicked” as something for me to do almost daily, and I am glad to use it in the mornings.
But at night, I do want to capture my many ideas-as-leaves into written form, versus letting them float away!
Turn on the light.
Write onto the Post-It or paper. The scratch of my pen is a signal to my brain that I am working it out. Feeling a tiny chunk of tension go outta that middle point between the shoulders is a fab sign.
Put it all back into a drawer.
Ideas = work = money in the bank = paid bills. Yeah!!