Insomnia – The Writer’s Friend?


Without the benefit of toxic substances*, it seems, I am unable to sleep.

Hey ho – for what has felt like weeks now, I take more than 20 minutes to drop off and then inevitably wake up at 2am, battle with self for 45 minutes or so (SLEEP, DAMN YOU, SLEEP!) until giving up the ghost and padding through to the spare room with a book for an hour or so’s reading.

All of which does not make for well-rested feelings come 7am, or 8.30am come to think of it. The ‘spare’ room option is currently out of bounds too, as my husband broke our bed and we are sleeping in the spare room.

[Dear Ladies and Gents of my esteemed readership, you may have recoiled slightly – “But this is a U certificate blog; DO NOT detail your bedroom shenanigans here please!” Fear not, the bed-breaking incident was the result of a strawberry daiquiri too many one Wednesday night and husband took a dead man’s fall onto the bed. A loud crack accompanied his drop.]

I’ve tried most things. I’ve cut caffeine out of my life, I try to ensure two hours between my last meal and going to bed, I keep the bedroom as cool as I can and I strive for digital discipline (switching off the phone and lap top at 8pm and not watching TV in bed). I even bought myself a mat with plastic spikes sticking out of it which is supposed to act on pressure points and give you marvellous sleep.

Nothing works!

There are pluses to early hours wakefulness. It does seem a good time to plot and re-plot a story. One of the ways I’ve used to get myself to sleep for years is thinking out little day dreams for myself. The current favourite – one I don’t do too often as it seems like tempting fate – goes like this:

Me, an ordinary day sat at home staring blankly at my laptop screen and idly twirling my hair. The phone rings. I consider leaving it as it’ll only be the library telling me my books are late or someone trying to flog me solar panels. In the end, I take the call.

Ms Highheelsandpinkglitter?” An American accent comes on the line. “We JUST love your manuscript! Everyone in the office has read it – we couldn’t put it down. Name your price, dear lady, name your price! Look, we want to meet up with you. What do you say? No, you don’t need to worry about easyjet baggage restrictions; we’ll be sending a chartered flight up for you. Would tomorrow suit?”

Etc, etc.

As you can tell from the above, I’m incredibly prone to flights of fancy so these days I take them elsewhere too. In the wee, sma’ hoors**, some incredible plot developments spring to mind. “Aha,” I think to myself, “Jazz, I never knew you had it in you, but now I can see you were a bit of a scoundrel all along! Not sure that you should have made that comment to Katie; it was rather mean.”

Or – “At long last! I’ve worked out who such and such is pretending to be! To be honest, it was worrying me that I was merrily writing about his life with no clue who the little blighter was.”

Occasionally, these twists and turns stay with me. Other times, I open up the iPhone and jot them down in the notes bit – handy, but I think the sleep gurus wouldn’t approve.

Perhaps writing caused the problem in the first place? Perhaps if my mind was blissfully free of my wretched characters and what is happening to them (most of the time what happens to them comes as a complete surprise to me, to be honest) eight hours of log-like sleep would beckon.

For the meantime, I’ll just have to settle for the 2am wake-up call, a good book and iPhone jottings.

*Wine, sleeping tablets.

**Again, ladies and gents, don’t be dismayed; hoors is slang for HOURS and not the other thing (do take your minds out of the gutter I entreat you).