Writer's Guilt and the Beginnings of a New Hope
It seems to me that being a writer involves a lot of apologies.
~Saying sorry for being so deep in a manuscript that you've forgotten the time.
~Being so overwhelmed with ideas that every other important item in your life sits at the wayside waving as you obliviously pass it by... sorry, the check was not in the mail before, but now it is!
~Not getting as much done as you had hoped to get done. I said I'd have that done... today?
~Asking a friend to read a half-baked text to see if you are totally off your rocker, or if there is a nugget of an idea worth pursuing buried deep within a flood of words.
...and a big one for me:
~ Not doing everything I learned I need to do in order to be what I've been told it takes to be counted as a "truly dedicated and productive writer", ie: waking up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to get my writing done. (and possibly for my terrible punctuation and ill-phrased run-on sentences)
I apologize to myself, saying I know I should get up, I have no other time, I am terribly busy and if I truly want to consider myself a real writer, I need to get up in these wee hours and get the writing freaking done . . . but then I don't. Get up. I apologize and promise to do it . . . soon. Not.
Another hobby of mine is to read books and articles on how the brain works. How we reason. What makes us creative. Why does story have such a powerful hold on our souls. Why am I so, so aarrrrgghhh . . . so frustratingly me.
Guilt and Information -- an interesting combination, particularly when marinated with an unhealthy dose of procrastination, set to forget in simmering pot, ideas tucked away, forgotten on the back burner, playing hide and seek in the intermittent percolations of primordial soup-for-brains of one hyper busy and terribly remorseful wannabe writer. Aha, light-bulb.
Creativity and Sleep.
All those articles I've been reading . . .
(I should link you to the articles, but if you just Google REM Sleep and Creativity, you'll get some good articles on your own.)
In any case, here is the scoop:
The first 4 or so hours of dreamtime result in fairly literal rehashing of the things that have been on your brain already. This is what I have come to refer to as the nightmare time. When all those stomach churning, vomit inducing doubts of the 2:00 a.m. variety come a knocking. This is when all my failures, forgotten and have-to-get-done tomorrow things rear their ugly heads.
The second 4 hours or so, now these hours are a creationist's golden hours. This is when your frontal cortex loosens it's hold on your reality and your brain starts to free-wheel it, making unlikely, bizarre, and unusual connections. This is why my characters are so amazingly annoying and vocal at an almost set-your-watch-by-me-4:00 a.m.-timing. This is when Oliver started to float (hmm, some deep analysis could be done on this one, later, now is not the time). This is when I solved my current 30 Days 30 Stories-and-I-can't-think-of-anything-but puppets-but-I-need-something-fresh-to-write dilemma.
This is why I now refuse to ever feel guilty about not waking myself up at 4:00 a.m. to write. Talk about killing the flow! To get up right when my brain is ramping itself up as it launches itself into imaginative heights? I don't think so.You have to get that last 4 hours of REM sleep to be at your artistic and innovative best. If you wake up, get up, and don't get that sleep, well, it's curtain time on the creativity. Kaput. Done. Dead.
What does it all mean?
In the end . . .
~I do promise to keep scribbling my 4:00 a.m. notes, in the dark, sometimes by the light of the cell phone charging on the nightstand, in a barely legible scrawl, those nuggets of dialogue, those unexpected turns to a phrase that has plagued me for days, to those wondrous enlightening nuggets of treasured wordplay.
~I do promise to really work at getting those full 8 hours of sleep that my body and my mind need.
~I do promise to not feel guilty anymore about not being a 4:00 a.m. writer.
~I now give permission to myself to be a 4:00 a.m. note scribbling dreamer instead.