I haven’t been sleeping lately for a variety of reasons. One of them is that it is hot as hell as we approach the first days of summer here on the Front Range. I just lie there in a pool of sweat, sticking to everything that comes into contact with me until I finally black out at 3 or 4am when it gets cool enough–yes, I have A/C. The other reason is that as I work towards my goal of writing full time, I have realized that something happens to my brain, and somehow I have to deal with it.
I am having a hard time finding a middle gear these days. This week I had some paid assignments which had definite deadlines that were coming up. I had 17 posts to get done by the 20th. My procrastination lobe of my brain kicked in for a few days and I was only writing a few each day. I would balance out that productivity by working on the book, which often took me into the small hours of the morning. 2 even 3am. It felt good to get that writing down, but the next day was pretty rough.
Like a hangover, the day after a big writing night feels like hell. For me, the brain keeps going, coming up with idea after idea, ways to phrase something just right, pieces I know I won’t remember in the morning. It keeps me up like there is a lighthouse outside my bedroom window, blazing 10,000 lumens worth of light complete with fog horn with each passing minute. Sometimes I have a drink before bed for the brain to latch onto and numb itself a little so it can let me sleep.
The problem with drinking before bed is alcohol gets converted into sugar and after a couple hours, you might wake right the hell up.
I have tried to take medications like Benadryl or Zyrtec. The added benefit of an antihistamine during the height of allergy season is something you would think would be a win-win. But not with me. Nope, last night I was in a shame spiral for having only written two articles for pay and even with Cetirizine, I woke up a couple hours later after some seriously messed up dreams. I was up for a few hours, sweating. Pacing the house. Feeling stoned from the effects of the medicine. I am not a fan.
I slept in this morning, and maybe I finally got caught up with my sleep.
Today, with deadlines looming, I put my butt in the chair and I wrote and wrote and wrote some more. I only planned on doing five or six assignments (really piddly nickle and dime assigments too) but I wound up finishing just a few minutes ago with 10 completed. My total for today with all ten assignments was probably right around 4,000 words. I also picked up two new 1,000 assignments on short order, which I hope to get done before the weekend.
Now, 4,000 words might sound like a lot, but you are also reading this. Which I am writing even after I thought my tank might be empty. No, right now I’m working on something of a runner’s high. I know that if I decided to jump into the book, I could write for another two hours…but then I would probably just drive myself crazy with my brain not shutting the hell up until nearly morning again. And I have two deadlined pieces I have to finish tomorrow.
So, I’m sorta trying to figure out how to maintain. There are days I feel like I’m burning the midnight oil and other days I am so worn out by the day and night before that I just want to throw up. I’ve been taking some time for self care, such as picking up the house, doing laundry, making my son meals, and even going on a walk. But what sorta sucks is writing is my self-care. Especially my personal writing. My fiction. My shower thoughts. And yes, this blog post actually. I’m not writing about bumpers or trailer hitches or slip and fall injuries. I’m just getting the words down out of my brain while I can. Before they dance around in my head all night and drive me mad.
The craziest thing I am learning these days is the more I write, the more I want to write, and the easier it is. When I put the words down, I feel like I am fulfilled. It is exhiliarating, whereas my former day job was exhausting. But getting the motivation to sit down and do it is often difficult. It’s a lot like going to the gym. As you bend over and lace up those running shoes, you just don’t wanna. Until that endorphin rush hits you and you feel so damn alive. Then you don’t ever want to stop.
You start to look at things like sleep and sitting down to eat as an impedement. I think I need to work on some kind of routine, to keep myself physically healthy as well as give my brain a way to calm down at the end of the day. Lately I haven’t even had any desire to nap. My depression seems to be waning too. I’m just too busy for it. I am just ruminating on the next idea. How to start a paragraph.
And right now, I feel reluctant to let the moment go and just try to chill. Because what if it doesn’t come back? What if I can’t sleep? So many variables. Writing is a good distraction from the things that have been keeping me up nights. And as long as I don’t look there, I stand a chance at sleeping.