Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yay! My insomnia is back!


And why would I be happy about that, you ask?

I once wrote a blog post about the link between insomnia and creativity. I had read about the work of Eluned Summers-Bremner, English professor and cultural historian at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, who wrote a book called Insomnia: A Cultural History. She believes there is a link between insomnia and creativity. A lot of poets and writers believe this, too. Many great artists and thinkers (Franklin, Edison, Wordsworth, Proust) were insomniacs.

At that time, I was going through an awful time with insomnia. I didn’t have trouble falling asleep, but I had trouble staying asleep for some reason. I’d wake up after a couple of hours and be wide awake. It is so frustrating to lay there awake when you know the alarm is going to go off in a few hours, when you know you have to get up and go to work and be somewhat functional and productive. And yet the harder you try to sleep, the more it eludes you.

However…I did come up with some great story ideas while laying there in the dark! My mind gets going and my characters become fully developed with back story and I get all these cool plot ideas…my writing at the time was incredibly prolific!

Of course, when my mind starts going on story ideas, sleep recedes even further away. I was a walking zombie during the day but I was writing like crazy. It made me wonder: does my insomnia result in creativity? Or is my creativity causing my insomnia?

Then recently my sleep improved. And my creativity seemed to dry up and my writing became slow and painful.

Ms Summers-Bremner doesn’t think insomnia causes the creativity, but because some people think it does, they don’t want to give up their insomnia. And I think I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t want to give it up either. Much as I hate dragging myself out of bed in the morning feeling like a bag of dog doodoo, knowing I came up with three great story ideas and I need to write them down ASAP gives me a little boost. So I’m going to embrace my sleeplessness.

What do you think? Does insomnia result in creativity? Or does the creativity cause the insomnia?


Meg Benjamin said...

I used to have a similar problem, waking up long before I wanted to. Now I've just adjusted to being an insanely early riser, although that also means I go to bed insanely early as well. And yes, I do get some really good ideas around four or five a.m.

PG Forte said...

I'm a night owl. I don't have insomnia often, but I definitely find my creativity to be linked to my sleep patterns. And I think I do my best work late at night.

When the words are flowing, I seem to need less sleep. Conversely, when I'm not writing well, I not only tend to go to sleep earlier than I'm likely to do otherwise, I also seem to need more sleep than normal.

I suspect that's because I'm so depressed about not writing.

Kelly Jamieson said...

It's funny how there does seem to be a link...

Erin Nicholas said...

I think they are definitely linked. I'm a night-owl, but if I adjust and still get "enough" sleep then I'm not as prolific as the times when I'm a little deprived (*a little*). I think when I'm tired (not exhausted... it's a fine line) then I don't get as caught up in "this isn't just right", "I need a different word", "I can't write anything worth a damn" *G*

Kelly Jamieson said...

Yes I think fatigue does have soemthing to do with that confidence factor, too, Erin!