Anna Masrud

The Art of Insomnia

Are you tired of falling asleep and missing those ripe, midnight hours to your writing advantage? Have you been guilty of going to bed before 11pm and wasting up to 8 hours of valuable time? Would you like to be like your friends who stay up ’til 4am churning out page after page of scrambled notes and dialogue? If you answered yes to any of these questions, please gather round.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

|| 1 ||
Drink lots of coffee.
One of the easiest ways to get with your friends and join the elite group known as the Insomnists is to drown your blood in copious amounts of coffee. I’m not talking about a cup of coffee when the afternoon drag hits (which is somewhere between 3-4pm). No, no, no. I’m talking about strategically drinking cups upon cups of coffee starting around 6-7pm.
How much coffee, should you ask?
Don’t be like this guy (tho I admit I like the picture).
Not quite, but you are absolutely getting there.
This guy is bathing himself in coffee.
Now that I think I’ve adequately gotten my message across, just remember this. Coffee is the first step any budding novelist needs to take in order to be one of the Insomnists. Coffee and that oh-so-good caffeine rush lays the foundation for an awake brain. Just remember to drink as much of it as you can.
Drown yourself in it. Be like that guy in photo #3.
Your Insomnist friends will think you are totally awesome and will give you a free supply of coffee when you go over to their houses for midnight writing sprees. I promise you, it’s worth it (though your skin and hair might smell like coffee for a long time. Just a warning).
|| 2 ||
Listen to loud music.
This is fairly simple. In order to keep your brain awake so that you don’t cave in to the tempting calls of those fluffy, white blankets heaped on your way-too-cushy bed, shove on some earphones and turn up the volume. Music helps keep your brain, and especially your subconscious, active and focused on something. Once your brain no longer has to listen to the white-noise drone of an empty, boring, sleeping house, you will tune out the words and be able to focus on your characters, your plot, and the blinking cursor on your blank word document. This is the second step in giving your brain a firm, wake up jolt.
However, there are a few rules to this step.
  1. No Lord of the Rings / other movie soundtracks / etc.
  2. No light and airy music that might lull you into a state of relaxation (i.e. oldies music).
  3. Country is only to be listened to on special occasions.
The main rule is not to listen to anything that could make you feel sleep/overly relaxed. The Insomnists shunned the idea of relaxation a long time ago — they do what they must to a) get their writing quota in and b) stay awake throughout those tough hours (i.e. 3-5am). In fact, when it comes to shunning relaxation, I personally know of a few Insomnists who have invested in frigid temperatures and lumpy, uncomfortable chairs when they’re writing. Anything to keep them awake.
Honestly, if you’re looking for some good music to keep that brain awake, try something loud, jarring, and somewhat over the edge. Indulge in listening to music that is off-the-charts. Maybe something that is loud, jarring, and completely in another language (Italian rap? Swedish rock-and-roll? Bulgarian hip-hop?), or simply go with your favorite pop/rock band. Whatever works.
Just no listening to Frodo and his epic climb up the side of Mount Doom. Okay?
|| 3 ||
Allow your characters to run rampant through your head.
This third and final, sure-fire way to keep yourself awake through the night and officially become one of the Insomnists is to allow your characters full run/access of your thoughts. You might be wondering what this entails or how it works, so I’ll show you. It ends up looking a little bit like this:
Basically, while coffee lays down the foundation for staying awake all night, your characters are the walls and support beams. Without them, the Insomnists are nothing. In order to stay awake, your characters need to be yelling, screaming, and making a terrible racket. They need to be chatting your ear off like that one, somewhat annoying friend we’ve all had at times. They need to be begging you to write their novel, bemoaning their discontents, singing pop songs off-key in a way that sounds like nails scratching down a chalkboard.
Our lovable, annoying, kill-me-now but can’t-live-without-’em characters, and they need to be present before Insomnia can truly set in.
Well, future Insomnists, good luck! The Insomnists, red-eyed and drugged on coffee, will be waiting for you to come to us. We have plenty of coffee, light snacks, and loud music to share.
Just make sure to bring your own characters. We have plenty of our own to deal with.

3 thoughts on “The Art of Insomnia

  1. My writing stamina is a shaky okay at night, but if I can manage to get up early in the morning, it's stellar. So I could totally join you in the early hours of the morning, but I'm not an Insomnist. Also, I don't like coffee. *hides from fruit being thrown*

  2. Ktlemonhead – Do you like tea? Or energy drinks? Sugar would work too if you could eat enough of it. /jokingEarly morning would work too. I'd say…before 7am is safe. If you are part of the writing group who writes late/early, that's awesome! We welcome you.

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