Sleepless in The Shire


A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
~William Wordsworth, “To Sleep”

I’m having trouble sleeping which, if you know me, is nothing new. I probably have an encyclopedic knowledge of sleeping pills and their pros/cons. When holidaying in Europe last year with a friend we embarked on the Sleeping Tablet Tour O’Euro in an attempt to rank countries by strength, size and potency of over the counter remedies for sleeplessness (Of course France won). I am also probably more reliable than the Radio Times when it comes to scheduled late-night television. FYI its mostly repeats of American crime dramas, terrible films or poker programmes.

Anyway, its been about four weeks since I absconded from That London and found myself rehoused in The Shire and I am seriously starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation. I blame this clean country living lark. Perhaps I need someone to record the sirens of Westminster for me so I can listen to them pre-bedtime as a sort of lullaby. Or funnel red wine down my neck in enormous quantities so I can sleep the joyful sleep of the inebriated and not have my brain flickering away like a television left on in a dark room.

Joking aside, does anyone else believe that tiredness/sleep patterns have an influence on writing and creativity?

On typing my question into Google I was hit with contradictory advice (surprise, surprise). While some writers are firmly in the ‘Sleep is the best and easiest creative aphrodisiac’ camp, others are advocates of the whole Creative Insomnia thing (sleep is for the weak and all that jazz).

Personally, I find that as I lay in bed at night my mind starts to wake up, mull things over, come up with ideas. When I’m wanting to hit the hay, there’s a little voice in my head that starts making lists, worrying, planning. Whole chunks of dialogue play out in my mind like conversations or troublesome plot holes/wooden characters are miraculously mended, and I have to reach for a pen and paper to write it all down because I know they will disappear like wisps of smoke by morning. So I suppose that sees me relcutantly bedding down with the Creative Insomniac types. Which is annoying because I’d rather be in the tent sleeping the sleep of the dead with the other normal folk.

Perhaps I will always be a late-night writer. Perhaps I won’t ever be able to retrain my brain to write in the morning. Perhaps I will never sleep again.

Any ideas?

(Chapter Seven – coming soon)


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