Do you have trouble sleeping because a remarkable idea keeps bouncing around in your head?
Is the exhaustion of your day getting to the point that you find it difficult to put words on the page?
Day jobs, school, family, kids, parties and daily tasks wear you out to leave little energy for writing concentration. What do you do when you can’t go to sleep, but you can’t muster the strength or creativity to write?
I encounter this situation frequently. It’s not writer’s block, but a form of insomnia that forces your mind towards leisurely tasks such as watching TV or scrolling through pages of Facebook posts.
Learn how to avoid situations where you are too tired to write, but can’t sleep.
Get to Bed and Write in the Morning
The best option when you are tired is to force yourself to sleep. How can you get yourself to sleep?
- Reading – This is a double edged sword. When I read a book that consistently intrigues me, I want to stay up longer and read. Try reading a magazine that provides articles with an apparent ending. Browse through the short articles to lull your eyes to sleep. Purchase a few short story compilations where the end is imminent. Prevent a chapter ending cliff hanger from keeping you up.
- White Noise – Shut off the TV, tablet and laptop. Opt to listen or watch forms of media that provide natural blue light. TV images and the backlights from computer/tablet monitors are known to keep you up longer and disturb your natural REM cycle. Listen to calming music or sounds of nature such as trickling water or chirping birds.
- Have a glass of wine – This doesn’t do wonders for the next day, but it gets you to bed and up in the morning. Several studies show that a glass of wine or a single beer at night is actually healthy. If beer or wine isn’t your thing, drink a large glass of cold water or milk before you go to bed.
Take Out Your Pad of Paper
Avoid using a computer when you can’t go to bed. This only makes the situation worse. Take out your notepad, lie on your bed and start writing. The writing helps you go to sleep, and the lack of unnatural light sets you into a deeper sleep. This also forces out some creativity, and it leaves a notepad by your side when you wake up with sudden thoughts of inspiration.
Develop Your Plan
An unproductive night usually leads to an unproductive next day. Use that time to sprawl out in your bed, and devise a plan for tomorrow. Write how you plan on utilizing each hour of the next day. Outline a day-to-day plan for the week. Think about the areas of your platform that make you struggle.
If you lag on the social media front, write out an outline for the coming week, and write social media post ideas for the entire week. Since you are not well versed in the area it will put you to sleep. Hopefully you will also create some solid planning for the week.
Integrate Writing Bursts With an Award to Put You Asleep
I use writing bursts during the day to stay productive. This entails me writing for a short period of time (usually an hour) and rewarding myself with something I enjoy such as a chapter in a book, a sitcom episode or a bag of beef jerky. My friend suggested that I integrate writing bursts into my late-night routine.
I always have a goal to eventually get to bed when I can’t get to sleep. Write for a short period of time, and reward yourself with something that could potentially put you to sleep. I usually write for 30 minutes and drink a cold glass of milk with a cookie. This slows down my body, and puts me to sleep. Try reading something after you write for a short period of time or playing an instrument if it won’t wake up roommates or family (my old roommate used to lightly play his guitar to put him to sleep.)
The night is a time with unknown possibilities. Take advantage of late-night inspiration, but get to sleep as soon as possible to get back to work in the morning.
How do you cope with a night where you can’t sleep or write? Let us know in the comments.