I tend to suffer from insomnia and have for many years. If you’ve ever had this problem, you know how frustrating it can be to toss and turn, try to count sheep, count backward by 3’s from 500 or whatever particular number you select, etc.
In my case, I tend to nod off at a reasonable time but then I wake up and it’s almost always 3 a.m. by our clock radio when I wake up. I’ve never figured out why 3 a.m. It isn’t like in the Amityville Horror where that house’s occupants claimed to awaken repeatedly in the middle of the night at exactly the same time as the murders occurred. Usually in our house when I wake up in the middle of the night, the scariest thing happening is my husband’s snoring!
The last two nights have been particularly bad for me waking up and then struggling to get back to sleep. In fact, I wouldn’t be here upright right now writing this post if not for the big mug of coffee sitting on my desk beside me. Out of desperation last night I grabbed my tablet which lives on my night table and I searched the web for tricks and tips to help people get to sleep and I found an interesting site called Sleeping Tricks.
Among about a dozen other tricks, this site recommends a technique they call Story Authoring which involves doing just what it says, writing a story instead of counting sheep. It suggests settling into your bed just as you normally would but if you can’t sleep, close your eyes, imagine a scene, come up with some characters, and so on.
What I find quite interesting about this suggestion is that this is what I have been doing off and on for years. To this day more of my novel, so far, exists in my dreams than in my computer. I just didn’t know that this was a recognized technique for coping with insomnia!
Personally, I started out with the premise for my story while I was perfectly conscious and got some of it down on paper before I started building on it at night. I didn’t randomly create a setting and characters for the sake of nodding off to sleep.
With our busy lives, maybe this story authoring technique is a perfect opportunity for writers to “write” their scenes, develop their characters and devise the twists and turns in the plots of their novels when their distractions are few.
I still use this technique many nights to actually fall to sleep, but unfortunately I’ve found that for me it doesn’t work very well to get back to sleep at 3 a.m. I often repeat a particular scene over several nights, refining the details, going a bit further into the story some nights, incorporating new ideas influenced by daydreams (or brainwaves if you’d prefer to call them that) or something I read about in the news for example.
So now you know my secret. Why not give it a try and see what you think?