Writer Rant: Counting Words, Not Sheep, in My Lame Attempt to Sleep

Welcome to Writer Rants–where every Friday a writer just lets loose on whatever the heck is bugging them this week. Enjoy.


I am not one of those clutch writers who does her best work under stress, with a deadline an inch away, or with pressure to perform breathing down her neck. I can’t even freakin’ write with music playing! If a neighborhood dog is yapping, or the heater is cutting in and out, or someone is leaf blowing two miles away, I lose focus. And my cool.

Last night I went to bed with two revision requests hanging in my queue, three topics to pitch, a completed piece that needed a final once-over before submitting (did it ever!), and two short blog posts due in 48 hours. Now that I am finally starting to find a consistent amount of freelance jobs online, I often have a horrible time taking myself offline at night! Much like I get anxious with too much food in my refrigerator (don’t ask), I appear to have tiny sleep issues with a well-stocked writer’s queue!

So last night, I spent my entire horizontal time writing in my half-sleep! I seemed to be working on two parallel articles, simultaneously. Both had approximately 10 words each! And for whatever my subconscious reasons, I was laboring over Each. And. Every. Single. Word. — At the torturous speed of one word per hour. Excruciating! Talk about polishing t*rds! I kept waking myself up, trying to commit each perfectly-chosen word to memory so I could call upon it in my writing assignments today. At some point in the long night, I finally realized that neither of these were actual assignments sitting in my queue. All of this deliberation over word choice and perfectly phrased content was just wasted energy.

Once I finally managed to string a few hours of sleep together, I woke way too early to find that the real assignments sitting in my queue had begun to compose themselves in my groggy head. I tried to go back to sleep, but now that I was starting to channel actual content that I needed, I was terrified that if I did not seize the moment, I’d lose it all. So I got up, knowing that the sleep deprivation would result in a very painful day of writing that would take twice as long as it should because brain fog would be my familiar companion.

I’ve always been a super light sleeper with long periods of insomnia cycling in and out of my life. It’s frustrating, and often frightening, to have a bad night and know that I have to be mentally and creatively sharp and “on” for a full day of writing. The only things I’ve found to be somewhat helpful in my quest for restful sleep are valerian extract and Benadryl before bed; repetitive prayers or affirmations in bed to quell the monkey mind; a dental bite guard to prevent the inevitable teeth grinding; and the comforting, soft fur of my two cats and their gentle purring within reach.

Laura W is grateful to be a getting-busier-by-the-month freelance writer at WA, but she would give anything to be “one of those people” who can fall asleep any time anywhere.

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