Kathleen’s excellent post on Habits alluded to night-writing friends, and I’ll confess I’m one of them. I don’t know what it is about the evening hours, but my muse starts to dance whether I’m sleepy or not. Maybe it’s because I’m working frenetically 9-5ish on freelance writing, and in the evening I feel all loose in the brain, able to dive into more creative ventures. I almost always give into the urge to do something—anything—on my story when this happens, and I’ve discovered a secret benefit to working on my WIP right before bed.
It’s the strangest thing, but after a wee-hours workathon, when I’m lying in bed waiting for Mr. Sandhunk to toss some of the Hawaiian coast into my eyes, story solutions wink to life at the periphery of my mind—like stars in the sky, they just weren’t perceptible until after all else was dark. And then the dilemma: get out of bed, grab a pen and paper to jot down these brilliant ideas, or sleep?
Personally, once I’ve reached the threshold of sleep, little short of a sick child is going to coax me out of bed. A writer friend once recommended something called a Night Writer Pen, and what a find this was. I keep a notebook and my firefly wand on the bedside table now, and I usually don’t mind rousing an arm and turning my head to jot down a gem or two. But for those nights when I do, I’ve developed a pretty reliable alternative: structuring a picture memory. For example, I may think up scenes or plot points regarding an important letter, a gondola ride and a shaggy dog. I'll remember all three of these scenes by picturing the shaggy dog holding the letter in his mouth, riding in a gondola. (And it's not just me: Studies show memories are easier to retrieve from the mind’s vault if you have two keys—one based on words, the other on pictures.)
In the words of Elizabeth Barret Browning:
There, that is our secret: go to sleep! You will wake, and remember, and understand.