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Sleep, energy for the writer’s soul

Current word count: 20,893

New words written: 992

Words til goal: 19,107 / 434 words a day til the end of September

I got passed the 20K mark this weekend, which means my current word count will now always be larger than my words til goal. How fun! It’s the little things, you know?

This weekend, I added some new earlier chapters and reworked some of those already written to take into account the new things I have discovered about one of the main characters. Then this morning, I got back onto continuing the story, with the better character information I now have.

I also found some interesting articles about energy and sleep this weekend and wanted to share. I think sleep and energy can both be difficult sometimes for us writers who are also working a day-job and taking care of families. Even for writers who are already established, working on multiple projects can be stressful and make sleep a challenge.

This article came through in an enewsletter I routinely get in my inbox, and I thought it had some useful ideas on ways to combat the things that keep us awake at night. I find my biggest problem is lying down and my mind going wild with thoughts about things I have to do, my books, query letters, even songs. I haven’t tried the getting up and walking around suggestion given in the article for thinking too much, but here’s one solution that I have tried that can work well sometimes:

Think of what you did today. I read about this years ago and have used it to lull myself to sleep a few times. The idea is that your mind is active when you’re thinking about things that are new, that haven’t been processed yet, like the items on your to do list. However, you mind will relax if you think about things the mind has already processed, like what you did that day. So, what I do is force my brain to list everything I did today in a monotone list: Got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, showered, made breakfast, ate breakfast, wrote, etc. etc. Sometimes, my mind is too active and just wanders away from the list, but sometimes this works to relax me enough that I’m asleep before I’ve gotten through my morning’s activities.

List names in alphabetical order. This used to work for me a lot better, but can still help sometimes. It’s going from A to Z in your mind list one name for each letter, like, Anabelle, Brian, Christine, Denise… Sometimes I make it all girls names, or all boys names, but the point is actually to not think too much. It should be something you do monotonously so your brain can calm down.

Stay clear of the computer at bedtime. I know some people write at night, and you should do whatever works for you, but a doctor told me once that doing computer work or something so brain-active is bad just before you go to bed because it keeps your brain awake. Watching TV is better because you don’t have to think — what does that say about the state of TV shows? 🙂

Now onto the energy part. I found this article, 8 Tips for All Day Energy, in the same enewsletter and I thought it had some interesting suggestions I hadn’t heard of before.

Go to bed and wake up at the same time. This one I’ve heard before. A doctor told me to do this a while ago, but after reading this article, I’m trying to get better at it. I think it’s definitely true that we all have an internal clock that we go by. If I want to sleep in, my body still wakes up when the alarm clock usually goes off, no matter what time I went to bed.

Wake up to light. This was a new one to me, but I think it works well. I write in the mornings, getting up between 5 and 6, depending on how many times I hit the snooze button (thank God my husband is a heavy sleeper 🙂 ), so it’s dark when I get up. I used to say my morning prayers, then drag myself to my computer and type away with only the moonlight shining in. But since reading this article, I turn on the light, and I find I wake up much quicker and easier. I still fall into a tired zone a few hours later, but I think it helps a lot with my writing hours.

When do you write? Got any more energy tips?

Write On!

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