I became a writer for a number of reasons; I wanted an excuse to wear more tweed, I thought I had a J.K. Rowling look about me (after a few gin & tonics), I needed to do something with the many voices in my head, my obsession with pretty notebooks needed to go up to the next level and I thought being a writer would allow me to experience a new kind of afternoon nap.
Writer naps are a bit special for a number of reasons:
- They are the only kind of afternoon nap you can get away with. Seriously, if you explain to loved ones how important it is for you to take a little nap after being creative they will understand. Just ignore the loud exhales and eye rolls. (I have suggested my loved one gets his eyes checked given the amount of eye rolls he gives me!)
- Writer’s naps have a delicious ‘I am being naughty’ feel to them. Try having one when you should be sorting out that torturous fifth chapter of your second draft. I guarantee you will have a mischievous look on your face as you creep away. Naughty but nice!
- They clear your writer’s head. There is nothing worse than walking round with a messy head full of plot threads, half baked characters, your favourite cliches and haunting images of your last rejection email. A writer’s nap will let your brain have a much needed tidy up.
- They are great for a late night writing session. Time your writer’s nap right and you will be tapping away into the small hours.
- According to this article napping can improve alertness, performance and creativity.
There are a number of writing scenarios where a writer’s nap might be called for:
Pre writing – you have the urge to write but the thought of actually writing makes you feel sleepy. I swear sometimes I only have to look at my daily word count target and I feel like getting my head down for forty winks.
Post writing – you have been at it (writing) for hours / half an hour / a good ten minutes and you start to feel sleepy.
Writing frustration – after sitting for some time at the desk you realise that writing is not your friend today. You have run into some issue – plot hole / lifeless character / unrealistic plot and rather than facing up to it you think about a nap.
Post writing an emotional scene. You have just brought your two characters together romantically and your emotions are all over the place. What you need right now is a little nap to take the edge off those imaginary knee trembling moments!
Alternatively you might have just killed your fictional character and you might find (after sobbing into your notebook) you need a little nap to ease your literary grief.
So, I thought it would be good to write a post on how to take the perfect writer’s nap:
- Limit your nap time. You want to aim for something between 15 and 20 minutes. Anything else will leave you feeling groggy and not wanting to write. No one wants that! I like to set an alarm when I take my writer’s naps.
- Find a good comfy place. I am a big fan of taking a writer’s nap on the sofa when the family are out. So, plump up some cushions, lay a little blanket over your legs (a big blanket will make you sweat and no blanket could lead to you feeling chilly. A little blanket over the legs will sort you out. I like a nice tartan blanket) and settle down.
- Visualise your creative project before you drift off. I have found creative problems can be solved if I visualise my work before I take a writer’s nap. I have done this a few times and this does work.
- Send a briefing out to fictional characters and creative muses you are going to be out of action for a bit. The invisible folk need to know you are resting and shouldn’t be disturbed. For noting – some annoying fictional characters will struggle with this.
- Don’t stress if you can’t sleep. Lying still for 10 mins can also be beneficial for you in terms of restoring energy levels and creativity.
- Have a positive sleep outcome in mind. Visualise what is going to happen post sleep. This works especially if you have been having problems with concentrating. I like to imagine myself hammering out words after my writer’s nap.
- Plan in advance for ‘coming round’ post nap. Make sure you don’t have to stagger too far to the kettle for a well earned cuppa and a slice of cake.
I reckon all the literary greats took advantage of a writer’s nap, so the next time you are sat at the creative coal face and you have just let out your 567th yawn – take yourself away for a little lie down. *Sigh*
Have a great day!