In some interview of Robert Kirkman, writer of “The Walking Dead”, when asked about his writing habits before he became successful, he said ” be prepared to sleep as little as possible”. He still had his day job, he would write whenever he could, staying up late, waking up early and so forth.
If you’re a struggling writer like me. Or just someone who has dreams of something bigger and better and still have those bills to pay, hence working the day job, then you understand it’s hard to find the energy to follow that “dream” or “passion” — To work on it and to successfully do it every day. And do it good. It’s not easy.
Some days are better than others. But there is one thing that is very consistent about the daily routine. I am always tired.
In fact I don’t remember not feeling that tiredness. Days are always filled with responsibilities and things to do. I don’t think this will change, until I’m able to quit the “day job” and fully concentrate all my time of what I want to do: write screenplays.
Writing isn’t physically draining, but very much emotionally draining. The endurance it takes to sit down and start writing, is more over whelming than actually writing itself. So “after words” — I can feel like a zombie ( Maybe that’s what inspired Kirkman?). Then when you add work, school, to-do lists, and other various common bullshits of life, the experience kinda sucks. Success becomes the only option in many ways.
I have a cure for all that pain. It’s called nap time.
It’s hard to take naps nowadays and not feel guilty. Shit, when we were in pre-school, they used to make us take naps. Now, that you’re an adult, you take a nap and you’re suddenly ” lazy”. Unless of course you’re an elder.
Some critics will say you’re not working hard enough — When I write I want to be fully involved; often I produce trash when I can’t keep my head up, let alone my eyes open. My work becomes riddled with errors, red squiggly lines burn my eyes.
I find a cozy spot on the floor. That’s right, I said the floor.
Now sleeping on the floor is the trick to the guilt free nap. When you’re on the floor, you’re really not that comfortable. You’re merely there to rest. That’s all it’s about. To regenerate. To get that blood flowing. To feel better.
Here are the steps I take:
1. Open your current project. Or get it out. Put it in the open where ever you do your work. This helps, so when you do wake up, it’ll be right there and you can jump right back into it.
2. Set an alarm. I usually do 45 mins. Knowing I’ll hit the snooze for another fifteen. They say you shouldn’t nap anymore than that, because your body will go into a deep sleep….
3. Find a pillow. Not a big one; a small one. I use a throw pillow from the couch. It’s small, not exactly comfortable, but enough to rest my head.
4. Make a spot near your workspace. Place your pillow there and lay down. Now the position you lay is very important. I lay on my back like some kind of vampire, arms crossed on my chest. It’s not usually how I sleep, but I’m always tired enough, so it doesn’t matter. If you can’t sleep in a different position than normal, then you aren’t tired enough for a nap. Again it’s not about comfort, it’s about resting.
5. Close your eyes. This is the easiest part.
6. Sleep. 45 minutes to 1 hour– Guilt free.
The floor works wonders. If I landed on my bed or couch, I could be out for many hours, resulting in a really bad day of productivity. So it’s got to be the floor.
Dive into your work as soon as you wake up. Don’t hesitate to do so. Don’t ease into it. Just start working. You’ll feel so much better if you do.
I hope the guilt free nap works for you. I wouldn’t make a habit of it, but use it wisely when needed.