Creative Minds and the Need for Sleep

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by Mary Ellis

Read any author interview or listen in on any conversation between writers and you will hear one universal theme: There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Between day-jobs, spouses, kids, houses that need to be cleaned, and meals to get on the table-how does a writer find enough time to write? Once you’re published, you must factor in time for editing your last book, publicity for the current release, research for the next one to be written, and coming up with ideas for an outstanding proposal. Wait a minute. What about email, keeping up with your blog, and that social media Goliath lurking in the corner, ready to devour an hour-or day-or two? So little time, so much to do. Writers are ingenious when it comes to squeezing more into their workdays. We become masters at multi-tasking, but sleep is often what gets short-changed.

Instead of slipping on our jammies, dimming the lights, turning off communication devices, and slipping under Grandma’s quilt at a decent hour, we network into the wee hours. Then we face the next writing day sleep deprived. Besides packable bags beneath our eyes and crabby temperaments, there is another downside few authors consider. Sleep-time is also dreamtime, and there is no better way to recharge your creative batteries than to dream. Especially during REM sleep, our dreams are often vivid enough to practically jump into and direct the outcome. The more we dream, the more we revitalize the right-side of our brains. I’m not a dream therapist, nor do I play one on TV. But for years I’ve noticed my work after a good, dream-filled night’s sleep. Creativity thrives on rest, not extra caffeine. So the next time you find the middle of your story sagging, your characters suddenly have nothing interesting to say, or your next turning point is as predictable as January snow in Minnesota, don’t reach for another cup of coffee. Instead brew a cup of chamomile tea, dim the lights, turn off your phone and go catch some zzzz’s. Your writing will thank me in the morning.

Mary Ellis JulylMary Ellis grew up near the Amish and fell in love with them. She has now written nine bestselling novels set in their communities. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her current series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Her debut Christian book, A Widow’s Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards. Her current release, Love Comes to Paradise, has been nominated for a 2013 Lime Award from The Christian Manifesto. She can be found on the web on her blog and Facebook.

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