Using Insomnia for NaNoWriMo

Cramming_for_Test_HLately, I’ve been suffering from insomnia. I wake in the middle of the night and can’t back to sleep. The truth is I haven’t been sleeping well to begin with, so it’s hardly a surprise that I can’t return to sleep if I’m interrupted.

It’s not all my fault. Last week, some idiot’s car alarm went off at 3.30am. Four times. A few days ago, the cat came to bed at midnight. Before settling in, he had to walk up and down my legs, collapse on my feet, and proceed to have a bath.

So it’s not like I’m trying to miss my nightly z’s. People are messing with me.

What’s this got to do with NaNoWriMo? Well, I’m a big believer in not wasting opportunities. Lying in bed wide awake accomplishes nothing. The way I figure it, I’m going to have to make up the sleep the next day with either a nap or an early bedtime. That’ll cut into my productivity. Moreover, exhaustion is one of creativity’s enemies. I can’t write for beans when I’m a zombie.

So, if I’m well into a bout of insomnia, I get up and work. I see no reason to waste time.

And during NaNoWriMo, work means writing.

The thing about this challenge is that it is a constant battle not to fall behind. In a lot of ways, NaNoWriMo is a race. Time is your enemy, and any day you don’t hit your writing goals gives that enemy a chance to take the upper hand. Anything you can do to stay on pace — or better yet, get ahead — is helpful.

So, if I can’t sleep, I get up and write. It doesn’t have to be that much. When the cat roused me this week, I only knocked out 800 words before I was too tired to write anymore. I went back to bed and passed out.

But I was 800 words ahead on the chapter I needed to write the next day, and I needed that jump since I was tired from my alleged familiar stealing over an hour of dream time from me.

I also figure this is partly NaNoWriMo’s fault. The pressure to stay on pace has me constantly thinking about the book. Yesterday, raking leaves, I was thinking about how a chase was going to go down. I mapped out a conversation between two characters while I was in the shower the other day. I plotted two chapters in my notebook while I was waiting during my daughter’s physical therapy session. Whenever I can steal a moment, I bend my mind towards Roses Are White to reduce any chance I won’t make it to the end by the 30th.

And that is likely having a detrimental effect on my sleep cycle. Exhaustion may be the enemy of creativity, but creativity is also the enemy of sleep. If I can’t shut down my brain, I won’t be losing consciousness any time soon.

But, hey, it’s only for a month, right? I can sleep during December. There won’t be anything going on then. . . .

Hopefully, NaNoWriMo isn’t costing you any sleep. If it is, well, maybe you can make it work for you too.

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