Writers are rebels by nature.
For a writer, a sudden strike of inspiration is like a cold splash of water in the face. Inspiration provides a writer with their second wind, but it usually comes at a price. Not only can you not sleep once you’ve been struck, but heeding its call usually leads you down a rabbit hole of restless creativity.
It’s 2 a.m., and I’ve tried to go to bed three times already. Instead, I’m writing this. When I look at this tomorrow, it will seem like complete dribble, and I’ll wonder why in the hell I lost sleep over it.
When I go to bed, inspiration usually comes calling. It’s in these quiet moments, when there’s no screen in front of my face, that all those ideas that were simmering in the background make their way to the foreground. I’ll suddenly realize the answer to a plot dilemma I’ve been struggling with for days. Other times, I’m inspired to write something new.
I have to get up and write it; I can’t sleep until I do. I know from experience that if I ignore it and wait for sleep to take me, I won’t remember the idea in the morning.
I always regret it.
What I think will take five minutes inevitably takes an hour. One idea flows into another. You may even return to bed thinking the inspiration has passed only to find your mind still full of ideas that you must write down. The cycle begins again.
Why do we lose sleep for our art? It goes back to being a rebel. In those quiet moments, when I’m debating if I want to get out of bed to write or roll over and try to sleep, one thought prevails: why am I so concerned about losing sleep? The answer is, “Because I have to _______ in the morning.”
Fill in the blank with your own responsibilities, the things you have to do. Now join me in a collective sigh.
Most artists – writers included – have day jobs, kids, or other responsibilities that may bring them a certain joy, but it’s not quite the same kind of satisfaction, is it? There are a lucky few who can make a living from their art, but most have another pay check to worry about. And we (secretly or not so secretly) resent the fact that we have to expend energy on anything else.
The desire to be a rebel is what drives us out of bed at night. We don’t’ want to be well-rested for our day jobs. We don’t want to do what we should do. We should be suffering for our art, we think. That’s what makes us artists, and separates us from everyone else.
So, stubbornly, we drag ourselves out of bed. The fear of forgetting our inspiration is strong, and the drag of fatigue tomorrow will be hard to contend with, but the ache of apathy would be so much worse.