Friday, January 20, 2012

When the Hell Did I Write That?

Motherhood has done funny things to my brain.

I remember in college I thought I did my best work slugging caffeine on an all night bender, hunched over a key broad until the crack of dawn. Now I have kids, not just any kids, two boys, a new born and a toddler, two of the trickiest ages to maneuver. I have discovered what actual sleep deprivation is and how it affects what I write drooling on the keyboard at 11 o’clock at night having finally gotten both kids down.

It does funny things to my writing too.

In college, the words I wrote in the wee hours of the morning tended toward the flowery side. I’ve gone back to some of the writing I did at three in the morning and I’m surprised the story didn’t drown itself in all those unnecessary adverbs. This writing was fueled by caffeine and academic rage.

These days any writing done past ten pm is a miracle of will power. Even as I cringe at the looming prospect of waking up early to get ready for work, I feel I am accomplishing something, even if its typing out a few paragraphs instead of the pages and pages I used to string out in the old days. Unfortunately I have also discovered that if I am writing in the fog of exhaustion, it tends to be offal.

Arianna Huffington, as in the founder of the Huffington post, says the secret to her success as a writer/ media tycoon is SLEEP. Nothing else, just a good nights sleep has created the power house that is Huffington.

Well hell if it was that easy we would all do it. Still, two kids later, I am a big believer in the healing powers of sleep. Nothing drags on your body, mind, and soul like lack of sleep. I look like crap when I don’t sleep, same with my writing. I cannot express how many times I gone back and read what I wrote the night before only to realize half of it isn’t even legible.

The found of R.E.M sleep, Dr. Dement says the leading cause of fatal accidents is lack of sleep. Not alcohol, not drugs, lack of sleep kills more people. He has a mantra of “Drowsiness is a red alrert!” If you are drowsy in a car, you need to stop and pull over, take a nap. I firmly believe this applies to writing as well. Unless you want a plot fatality, pull the laptop over and get a good nights rest! Or at least a good refreshing nap before you attempt story construction. It could save a character.

I don’t even want to think about how many papers I wrote as an undergrad in the wee hours of the morning. I shudder to think what is on those pages, I really do.

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