If you want to be a successful writer you have to learn to nap.
When we nap, we are resting our eyes while our imaginations soar. We can sort and sift, visualizing our hero and or heroine, creating scenarios for their story.
Napping requires a prone position. We might drift off, just far enough to rescue our creative spirit from the chaos of everyday life.
Where to nap? A bed is the obvious place, or in the living room recliner with the footrest up; a hammock is the best napping invention ever.
How long should you nap? An hour is the optimum. That’s long enough to free your mind of the nagging demands of real life and set it free to solve the block you’ve encountered in your plot, or come up with an idea to transform a sagging middle into something the reader can’t put down. More than an hour and your family will start to worry.
Comedian and writer Carrie Snow hit the nail on the head when she said, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed by a nap.” We can paraphrase her statement to apply to untying knots in our creative thought process.
If you can’t nap, you can always daydream. What?! Weren’t you told to quit daydreaming when you were a child? Like me you probably felt guilty for years when you lapsed into reverie. Instead, we should seek opportunities to daydream. Folding laundry, ironing, riding a bus, cleaning silverware: none of these require your mind to be in the present. You could be off exploring medieval castles, tracking down a vampire or riding the range with a handsome cowboy. One of my favorite places to daydream is walking along a deserted beach.
Daydreams are fertile soil where creativity incubates. The Muse visits in reverie, even if the daydream has nothing to do with the project you’re working on. You know you’ve been daydreaming successfully when you’re suddenly jolted out of it!
But we don’t just dream during the day, do we? Night-time dreams can be problem solvers too. I dream about my characters especially in the early hours of the morning, just before waking. I’ve “written” some of my best work then. Of course, sometimes I can’t remember the details when I wake up, but sooner or later, it sifts back into my consciousness and becomes an Aha! moment.
Beethoven and Brahms used to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to write down scores. Thoreau kept a pencil and paper under his pillow. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem Kubla Khan in his sleep and Robert Louis Stevenson worked out plot details of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
I can almost guarantee that napping, daydreaming and nightscaping will resolve seemingly insoluble problems, even those that have nothing to do with writing. In The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco says, “A dream is a scripture.”
I wish you sweet dreams!