Writing, Sleep, and Ideas

One of the things that I’d learned in the past, but that really has gotten hammered on this year is that I *cannot* write when I’m exhausted. Period. Possibly I can do some non-fiction, but in all honestly, sleep is one of those things I can no longer skimp on.

It makes me frustrated, sometimes. I used to only need five-six hours per night. Go to bed at midnight, wake up at six refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Seven appears to be my minimum these days. But more often, I need eight. Or even, heavens forbid, nine.

This becomes particularly tricky when the hormones go nuts. Night before last, I could not get my brain to shut down. Once asleep, I slept tense. Plus, I had night sweats, which meant waking up at 2 AM or so having sweat through the sheets, then not able to go back to sleep, etc.

Not fun.

So I had no words yesterday. We weren’t planning on writing in the morning as we were driving back home. But last night, though I felt guilty (particularly watching my sweetie write) I knew that I had no words. Trying to force them would have been wrong.

Particularly since I am *loving* the book I’m currently writing. I did about 3000 words every day while we were gone. It just felt so good – FEELS so good – to be writing this book.

I have a vague notion of what the end is. No real idea of how to get there. Am hitting some of the scenic view points and just giggling madly.

I’m going to be on a panel at Orycon about where do you get your crazy ideas. (Seriously. I have people tell me all the time that I’m wildly creative, that they’ve never read anything at all like what I write.)

Spoiler: Ideas are cheap. Seriously. Not even a dime a dozen. Merely fractions of a cent, if that.

The key isn’t coming up with unique ideas (though come to the panel because I do have some thoughts on how to do that!) The key is choosing the RIGHT idea.

You can’t choose an idea based on what someone else tells you to write. Or even the one that’s hot and selling in the market right now. (Well, you can, but you’ll burn out fast.)

Part of the secret handshake of writing (if there is one) is choosing the idea that drags you to the keyboard. The one that you WANT to write. The one that makes you giggle, or laugh manically. The one that you MUST write.

This is part of why I have the speed I do when it comes to writing. I choose the projects that I really want to write. I get SO EXCITED thinking about what’s coming in the current novel.

But what about the hard parts, or the difficult stories? For example, I’m in a chapter right now that’s harder for me to write – one of those chapters that will possibly make me cry when I re-read it.

I remind myself that I’ll be giggling in other chapters. And that my job is to make this chapter to be as powerful as possible. I’m putting down good words, and I feel satisfied with that, even though I’m not laughing as much here. (Part of defining my own success.)

Last night, I slept enough. This morning, there are words that need writing.

Excuse me while I go and giggle some more.

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