One of the banes of my existence. I’ve been an insomniac for years, getting by on a few hours of sleep every night. It eventually catches up with me and every so often I crawl into bed on a Saturday afternoon and sleep for a few hours. It’s not an uncommon ailment, but it can be frustrating.
However, over the years I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. I usually wake up in the early AM, around one or two o’clock. The house is quiet except for the whisper of the A/C and the snoring of my dogs. I’ll stir, open my eyes, and check the time on the alarm clock perched on the dresser. I’ll look over at my partner who is always fast asleep and maybe adjust the covers for her. Then I lay back and stare at the ceiling for a bit and let my mind wander.
I avoid thinking about my day job. That’s a rabbit hole I don’t want to fall into. Instead, I’ll start thinking about some of my creative projects. With my mind still foggy from sleep it’ll drift here and there, sometimes mulling over a recent project and sometimes slipping back in time to some unfinished project from years ago that I’d mostly forgotten about.
Once my mind latches onto one of them I begin to pick it apart. Where did the idea originally come from? What were my plans for it? Where did I leave off? And then I’ll wonder if there’s still potential there and if I’m still interested enough to carry on with it. Usually, I’m game.
It’s in these still, quiet moments that my mind works the best. It’s that in-between time, between wakefulness and sleep. A semi-doze. I think having my brain partially disconnected allows my imagination more freedom to explore possibilities. It’s not hindered by distractions around me. There’s no television, no radio, no conversations. It’s just me and my imagination, and I let my imagination take control. I find it to be a pleasant experience, almost Zen-like, meditative.
I often have my best ideas when I’m either in this state or actually dreaming. In fact, I’ve used this time to work out issues I’ve had with stories. If you’re like me, you can run into roadblocks when writing. Not exactly writer’s block, but I can write myself into a corner on occasion, or get to the point in a story where it can go in several directions and I’m not sure which is the best option. In this dreamlike state I can bring the problem into view and then lay there and let my mind do what it does best. All sorts of possibilities present themselves, some are uninspired, but many of them are solid ideas. Which is the reason I also keep a spiral notebook and a pen next to my side of the bed. Scribbling by the light of my phone.
I used to be troubled by my lack of sleep, but over the years I learned to use it to my advantage. Why should I let something like insomnia affect me in a negative way? It’s better for me to take control and use it. I think the same can be said for any issue or problem we may have. We have to confront the problems, understand them as best we can, then make them work for us. It’s like I’ve mentioned in several of my podcast episodes – some people get into creativity to work out their issues. This is the same thing. I have insomnia, but instead of worrying about it and letting it get the best of me, I use it to fuel my creativity.
We can’t let the little beasts in our heads control us. We have to tame and control them.