Nightime Writing Won’t Let Me Sleep

As you may have noticed by the lack of movement on my NaNoWriMo counter, I given up on that story. Well, I really haven’t given up on it, more like I have just put it aside for a while. I am still writing at night before bed, though. My current project is a Christmas themed short story that I hope to have finished in a week or so. However, I do have a slight problem. I’m having a hard time getting to sleep.

I know what you are thinking: eveyone has trouble sleeping now and then. Well, this isa new problem for me because ever since my daughter was born I have been able to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, probably from exhaustion. I guess you could call that one of the added benefits of having a baby. Lately, I have been tossing and turning for hours after I go to bed. I finish up writing, put my head on my pillow, and then lay there thinking about my short story and what mull over ideas to improve the story. Or, I lie there excited about how great my story is going to be (I guess I’m an optimist at night). It was so bad last night that I was disturbing my wife to the point that she kept talking in her sleep about changing the sheets, seemingly because the ones we have now are too noisy.

Has anyone else who does their writing before going to sleep experienced this phenomena? The worse part about it is I have no other time I can really dedicate to my writing. I pretty much have to wait until the baby falls asleep, which also happens to be right before I go to sleep.

11 Rules of Writing

I recently came across a web site that details the 11 Rules of Writing.  Some of this stuff is common knowledge, but I find it is helpful to look at this now and again.  I know I often fall victim to #10: Use the active voice unless you specifically need to use the passive.  The nice thing about this site is that it gives examples of the wrong way to do things and also examples of the correct way to do things.  Of course as they say, rules are meant to be broken.

Neil Gaiman on Writing

I found a couple of excellent blog posts yesterday that offered some of Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on writing. I found the first post, Neil Gaiman on Plotting and Handwriting Stories, on Mike Shea’s blog. I enjoyed this one for several reasons, though mostly because he seems to have a similar writing routine as myself, in that he doesn’t use a very detailed outline and writes the first draft by hand. One quote, about the dangers of writing on a computer connected to the Internet, hit home with me:

“I love writing in longhand. Writing in longhand is a marvelous thing for a writer to do these days. If you have a notebook and a nice pen you can go off somewhere and write that’s solar powered. You can drop it or get it wet and pretty much all of your work will continue to be there. If you suddenly decide to look up a word or check a reference you will not look up four hours later, blinking, finding yourself somehow in the middle of an Ebay auction you never had any plans to be part of.”

The second post I found was on Neil’s website, in the essays section. In this post, he tries to answer the question of “Where do you get your ideas?“. A lot of this stuff we, as writers, already know but it is nice to hear the thoughts of an such an accomplished writer as Neil Gaiman. I will give you one quote here. Neil was talking about visiting his daughter’s class and being asked where he gets his ideas:

“This is what I told them:

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.

You get ideas when you ask yourself simple questions. The most important of the questions is just, What if…?

(What if you woke up with wings? What if your sister turned into a mouse? What if you all found out that your teacher was planning to eat one of you at the end of term – but you didn’t know who?)

Another important question is, If only…

(If only real life was like it is in Hollywood musicals. If only I could shrink myself small as a button. If only a ghost would do my homework.)

And then there are the others: I wonder… (‘I wonder what she does when she’s alone…’) and If This Goes On… (‘If this goes on telephones are going to start talking to each other, and cut out the middleman…’) and Wouldn’t it be interesting if… (‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if the world used to be ruled by cats?’)…”

This is only part of his explanation. Check out his site for the rest. I found it very interesting and also inspiring. It really is true that the great ideas for writing often stem from asking a question.

Finally, I will leave you with one final quote from Neil Gaiman:

“All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.”

Well, I hope this post helps or inspires you. Any additional comments or sources are welcome as always.

Derailed – A NaNoWriMo Update

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn’t write anything over the Thanksgiving holiday .  I feel pretty bad about this, but I don’t think I could have done anything about it.  Here is what happened and from that you can determine if I should be cast aside in a deep pit to think about my failures, or forgiven and allowed to sit at the great table of writerdom.

My writing output seems to be greatly influenced by sleep, or lack thereof.  This Thanksgiving was the latter.  We spent two nights away from home, and our poor daughter had a rough time.  She was great during the day, smiling and cooing and impressing all of her relatives, but at night she had a hard time.  We would get her to sleep and gently place her in her Pack and Play, which is supposed to be a portable play area and sleep area, but doesn’t seem to be good at either.  The moment her little head hit the surface, she would cry hysterically until we picked her up.  She would then immediately fall asleep in our arms, only to wake again when placed in the Pack and Play.  Continue this for eight hours two nights and you can see why I was too exhausted to write.  I maybe got three hours of sleep each night.

Thankfully, she was so happy during the day.  Otherwise I would feel even worse about travelling.  It was nice to see our extended family, some of which we hadn’t seen in a few months.  Our daughter even waved at her Great-Grandmother while eating her Rice Cereal.

On top of all of this, the Stillers ( that’s Pittsburgh Steelers to you non-Western Pensylvanians) got shut out by the Baltimore Ravens yesterday, ending any hope of a Super Bowl repeat.  And yes, it was painful to watch.

I am going to try to work on my NaNoWriMo project every night this week, just to see how many words I can wind up with.  Then, I will put my trusty notebook away for a little while and work on some short stories.  Eventually, I will revisit my little notebook, with the hopes of revising the story into something worthwhile.  We’ll see.

I’m Back

Here is a quick update.  I’m back from my Thanksgiving trip.  It was nice seeing family.  I ate a lot and wrote none.  I am glad to be back home.  Thanks to everyone who left comments while I was gone.  I will reply soon.

Happy Thanksgiving

I am off to celebrate Thanksgiving now. I may not be able to update this blog until Monday. Have a great holiday all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving and everyone else have a nice week. In the meantime, here are links to some of the most popular posts I have written:

Fiction Writing Opportunity

Mike, over at Kalbzayn’s World had a post today about a “chance to get published that will not take much of your time“. Basically, the web site 55fiction.com is seeking flash fiction stories of 55 words. So, first check out Kalbzayn’s World, and then head on over to 55fiction.com and submit your story.

Here is my story:

Chaos

My comrades had fallen hours ago, overwhelmed by the events of the day, their seeming limitless energy depleted. To my left, my sister lay motionless on a mound of rubble, empty hands outstretched. Debris hung from the ceiling and the walls. My ears throbbed, still ringing from the awful, glorious noise.

Man, I love sleepovers.

Wikipedia Brown

Yesterday I came across Adam Cadre’s Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala, a short story parody of the Encyclopedia Brown children’s detective stories. I got a kick out of it, and now I want to go back and read some of my Encyclopedia Brown books. For those that are unfamiliar with Encyclopedia Brown, check out the Wikipedia link I provided (ironically?). As a kid it was always fun to read books like these where the children are smarter than the adults and are always saving the day and having adventures.

On the NaNoWriMo front, after all that pep talk from the other day, I still almost threw in the towel last night. Our daughter fell asleep later than usual and I had to drive back and forth to town a couple of times to pick up my car, which was at the garage being inspected. I sat there at 10:00 P.M., exhausted, thinking to myself how nice it would be to just lay down and go to sleep. Besides, I thought to myself, there is nothing left to write in this story.

Instead, I wrote a few horrible sentences of dialog. This dialog, though laughable, sparked a few ideas in my head which lead to more sentences and eventually helped me finally answer some plot questions which have been gnawing at me. By the time I was finished writing, I had 500+ words. A meager amount, for sure, but they were 500 very important words and are much better than zero words.