Middle Of The Night Writing.

19 Apr

Sometimes I feel stuck in my writing. There are so many aspects of my past that I want to let out, but then I sit down to type, and nothing comes out…which just seems ridiculous when I know of so many things inside me that need to be released.

I’ve been told for as long as I’ve been writing that I have a way with words. I take pride in that compliment. I take pride in it because writing is the one thing that I never, ever feel limited by…and that is a truly awesome feeling. However, the fact that I have a way with words can be damaging at times because it leads to me wanting to have things sound just right, and when they don’t, I’m not satisfied. However, I’ve learned to write through the dissatisfaction. That writing usually isn’t my best, but it gets me out of my writing slumps. But you know, sometimes a slump is a slump, and there’s not really much you can do but wait for a new day.

There’s a quote I read somewhere that goes something like this: “Writers never have to change the things they got up in the middle of the night to write.” I used to not really understand this phrase, but as I’ve delved deeper into writing my book, I see the connection. Before writing my memoir, I didn’t understand the concept of literally being woken up by something that’s so vivid in your mind that you’ve just got to write it. However, over the past few months, I’ve had many nights where I’ve gotten in bed to go to sleep, and about 15 minutes later, memories pop into my head. But not just random, vague memories. Strong, vivid emotional memories that have on more than one occasion caused me to sit up in bed to take a breath in order to let some of the emotional shock wear off. However, not once have I gotten up to write those thoughts and memories. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I knew that if I did I probably wouldn’t be up the next morning in time to go to class.

That’s what’s hard about choosing to start this book when I have. Not only do I have my book on my mind, but I’m 19, I’m a sophomore in college, and I’m still trying to piece together who I truly am. Granted, I’ve discovered a few key pieces over the last year: like my love of writing and photography (and psychology…definitely can’t forget that one!), the realization that I am and will always be the biggest book nerd that I know (HA. No…really), and the understanding that every person I have met in my life thus far is here to teach me something about myself, whether it be good or bad. The last part is an understanding that I haven’t come to lightly. I like to think that I can hypothetically have a genuinely good relationship/friendship with the majority of people who I come into contact with. However, we all know from life experiences that that is not always the case….which is sad, but it also can be a learning experience (especially in connection with those people who we may not see eye to eye with). Then again, there are some people that we’ll just never be able to win against, but that’s okay. We can just keep walking…because there will always be other people further on down the road that we’ll feel glad we crossed paths with.

Once I’m done with this semester, I’ll be happy to have a little bit more time for the middle of the night writing. The writing that wakes you up…and forces you to get out of bed and start typing. I haven’t fully experienced it yet, but I can’t wait to see what it’s like. Even now, when I’m woken up by things that I know I want to write down, I tell myself that I’ll remember in the morning. I talk myself into staying under the covers…and eventually I do drift back to sleep. However, all of you writers know as well as I do that things that wake you up in the middle of the night are never as vivid the next morning. Even if the memories are vaguely still there, you rack your brain wondering what it was that had you itching to write it all down at such a precise moment. I find it fascinating that something can seem so vivid and clear in your head one moment, and then the next moment it can be covered in haze and doubt….reaching the point where you are unsure whether you should try to write it down or not. My theory, though I haven’t tried it yet, is that if something you want to write wakes you up in the middle of the night, it’s got to be good. After all, despite what we say about living and breathing words every day, even writers need sleep.

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24 Responses to “Middle Of The Night Writing.”

  1. Dana Staves April 19, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    Keep going! At the risk of sounding condescending, you may be 19 and dealing with all the things we deal with when we’re 19 (although I warn you, I’m 27 and still dealing with those things), but you’re writing regularly, and that counts for so much! So keep going!

    • ameliaclaire92 April 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      So true. Sometimes I’m still amazed that I’m able to write a blog post every day, but now that it has become a habit, I don’t want to stop. πŸ™‚

  2. celestealluvial April 19, 2012 at 8:15 am #

    Such honest and thoughtful reflections toward yourself…Keep being fair with yourself, making more room for the person you are becoming, room for new things, and always give yourself some credit….for only being 19, you sound pretty well rounded in your thoughts, that is much more than I, and many others, had at your age….I applaud you for your personal efforts, and for openly sharing a piece of your story with us…..
    warm wishes and goodwill to you,
    Celeste

  3. shoreacres April 19, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    That little comment about writers never having to change what they write in the middle of the night sounds great, but it’s not at all true to my experience. I absolutely agree that what comes to me at night – phrases, words, a sudden insight into the direction a given piece should take – usually is valuable, linked in some mysterious way to processes that continue even in sleep.

    But the inspirations of night require the craft of day – the shaping and deepening that make them accessible and appealing to others.

    If you’ve not seen it, there’s a marvelous article by Jonah Lehrer in a 2008 issues of The New Yorker. You can see the abstract here. It speaks directly to any of the issues you raise, and would be worth a read once the pressures of the semester are over.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

      Very good point. Also, thanks for sharing the article. I’ve have to take a look at it.

  4. David Michael Williams April 19, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I’m with shoreacres: “β€œWriters never have to change the things they got up in the middle of the night to write” just doesn’t ring true. But I can relate to the anecdotes of middle-of-the-night visits from one’s muse. Sometimes, it’s nigh impossible to switch off one’s creativity…one’s very mind. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t leave my bed, on occasion, to get the thoughts out of my head and onto the page.

    But all too often, the brillance that seemed so evident at 2 a.m. doesn’t stand up to the light of day. Though sometimes the idea itself is worthy of further exploration. Some people keep a notepad by their beds. I’ve never tried that. But then again, these days, I’m pretty much asleep by the time my head hits the pillow.

    I had a college professor once who scoffed at one student’s excuse that he didn’t have time for writing because of so many classes, etc. The prof said in no uncertain terms that if a student couldn’t make time to write, then he would have little success later in life. At age 33, married with two kids and working a fulltime job, I absolutely understand what he meant now. And I’m grateful I developed good writing habits back then…in spite of endless reading assignments, papers to write, a parttime job and so forth.

    I’m impressed with your commitment to write even when the spirit doesn’t move you, to plow through your slump. That’s what good writers do. I vividly recall staying up to the wee hours of the morning during sumer vacation but then ignoring my fiction for days thereafter until I was pulled in again. These days, I try to make the most of every moment I have. Even fulltime professional writers have to do the same.

    I used to be able to get away with sacrificing a few hours of sleep to satisfy my insomniac of a muse, but not anymore. And I think that finding a balance (i.e., staying focused on “real life” when necessary and dedicating the time to writing even when one doesn’t really feel like it) is what separates a successful, lifelong writer from a whimsical dabbler.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Wow. So true, David. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. πŸ™‚

  5. RedheadCarol April 19, 2012 at 9:23 am #

    I love middle of the night writing. But sometimes it’s not really an option.
    Don’t ever stop writing.

  6. Anita S April 19, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    You go, girl!

  7. LA Edwards April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    I have written some of my best work in the middle of the night. It used to freak my husband out, because he would wake up and wonder where I had gone and for so long. One night he found me sitting at the computer typing my heart out. I told him I merely had to get it out. I would say nearly half if not more of my book was written in the middle of the night and it has been my best because I got up instead of thinking I will remember this tomorrow. Ha this is never the case. I would say this and the next morning kick myself for not getting up to write. I believe many writers do in fact write their best work during the middle of the night. So, if you find yourself doing this, it is normal, it is okay, and this is who you are. A talented writer.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      I’m so glad that there is someone who understands. Thanks Louise! πŸ™‚

  8. Letters to Little Man April 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    So many writing quotes I want to tell you … πŸ™‚ I like this!

  9. ariannasrandomthoughts April 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    I can relate to what you are going through. I actually keep a notebook beside my bed – for when inspiration strikes so I dont forget them. Keep up your writing. Excited to hear what you have to say πŸ™‚

  10. stephenedwards425 April 20, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Looking over your comments I will find solace in knowing when I was up last night at 4 am, because something popped into my head to write and I was afraid if I rolled over and went back to sleep I would forget it, there were all of you also sitting up in a small circle of light writing also…thanks…I’ll never feel lonely again.

    Be encouraged!

    • ameliaclaire92 April 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      We are all apart, but yet all together, in our writing journeys. πŸ™‚

  11. Carrie April 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    this is a big deal for me – i am physically unable to get out of bed when the spirit moves in the ‘middle’ of the night. too many nights of frustration called for an attempt to solve the issue. pen and paper do not work for me and sleeping with a computer was just not an option. my iPhone has become my night notebook. each day i am thankful for technology’s ever growing support!

    next time i wake to ideas and memories, i will think of you and all who have shared their ‘night work’.

    • ameliaclaire92 April 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carrie. It’s great that your iPhone has allowed you to still write in the night when your thoughts and ideas are present.

  12. The Hobbler April 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I think insomnia is the artists curse…maybe blessing in disguise.

  13. jilllurie April 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    This is a great reminder to keep writing, even when it may not be ‘perfect,’ like an athlete who shows up every day for practice, even if it’s not their best day. I have written some of my favorite poems at 3am and I never say no to the words, regardless of whether they come in the middle of the night, at the park with my son or in yoga class. I keep pen and paper with me always! I love your writing and can only imagine where you will be in 10, 20 years. Keep going!! πŸ™‚

  14. Linds April 22, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    You really DO have a way with words, by the way. I just love the heart pounding thoughts that wake us up to write in the middle of the night (it’s only happened to me a couple of times, but I usually try to make sure to write at least a few things down in those instances). “…and the understanding that every person I have met in my life thus far is here to teach me something about myself, whether it be good or bad.” Agreed. Love it girl! πŸ™‚

    • ameliaclaire92 April 22, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

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