A Great Friend or Horrible Adversary to the Writer – The Power Nap

Blessing or Curse, do Naps hurt or help you and your writing process?

It’s something you’ve been doing since you were young. Kids hated them. They proclaimed that they weren’t tired and that they were too grown up for naps. Their parents would not relent though. Nap time was hated by many kids for a long period of time.

Now as an adult once again the power nap enters the fray. Nothing beats going for your lunch break and passing out for a bit to regain some necessary energy for the afternoon. Plus sleeping feels great. Making sure you get enough sleep without going overboard is extremely important. The recommended amount can vary. I’ve heard 30-60 minutes is fine (great source I know), while other articles get as low as 10-20 minutes.

There have been plenty of studies on the impact of naps. Research like the one linked here discusses how naps offered a positive effect in adult workers ranging from minor to dramatic increases in alertness and memory recall. A good nap leaves you feeling more energized than ever before and can cut the afternoon grogginess from slipping in after lunch. Granted when it comes to researching the effects on people in general, your mileage may vary when it comes to the positive impacts.

Note however, that there has also been research that showed that those who napped longer than 60 minutes had higher mortality rates. Super scary, but once again when we’re talking about people there are so many factors that go into who we are overall that there are many potential explanations for this relationship.

However, the reason I bring this up is because I’m curious on if authors nap. There are some interesting works on when certain famous authors wake up like this one. Naps are a bit of a different beast. Some people loathe them because they leave snoozer groggy and unsure of the world, while other people receive that positive benefit that was mentioned before and use that newfound energy as a spark for their creative process.

I for one enjoy an early afternoon nap to refocus for work and regain some energy I lost from an early day workout. It makes it feel like my days are split in two and I am by no means complaining. One can make the case that I could be spending that time writing instead, but I think of naps more like an investment. I use up some time now so I can be more ready later.

What are your thoughts on naps’ benefit/risk on your routine and writing habits?

Finding the unlikely factors to deal with Writer’s Block

Sometimes the smallest differences can lead to big changes

It’s a common theme that novelists, students, and pretty much anyone else that has to deal with the written word has to deal with.

Writer’s block.

Run from it, dread it, it arrives all the same. There is something extra annoying about staring at a blank white screen with one cursor blinking- mockingly of course.

The run of the mill responses for dealing with such a problem are good places to start: do a writing prompt, just write about the first thing that comes to mind, and browse the news/social media for some inspiration (although be very careful with that). Yet some either do those steps to no avail or don’t feel like those steps would work to begin with.

It can reach a point where not writing anything during a writing session becomes the norm. Days turn into weeks into months and soon you’ve given up for the long haul. You’re mad at yourself for not pushing past it, you’re mad at the world for creating such a concept as writer’s block, and you’re mad at being mad.

However, when you do reach this step there will come the odd day where writing is like the inverted brother of writer’s block. There will be some days where the stars align and you’re able to pound out that story or article like it was nothing. Like your mind’s gutter was briefly unclogged and all your creative juices pour out.

Take note of everything happening when this occurs.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the various factors could be. Just take a step back and note whatever comes to mind as being slightly different than usual. Attempt writing with different surroundings to see if something sparks in you.

For me, I do a lot better writing while it’s dark or gray outside. If the sun is out I get antsy to be outside or doing chores outside. I noticed that when it rained out all of a sudden I was like a mini Stephen King, pounding out doubled my word goals. In parallel, after the gym my body is exhausted, but I’m twice as focused on the computer thanks to the fact that I don’t really need to move much.

That is to say there will be factors that you think work, but don’t at all. I thought for a while that I needed to eat before writing to get stuff done. This lead to a weird rush for me to eat breakfast quick so I could write before work and boy did it make my meals horrible. Turned out that it wasn’t about eating that was making me write more, but rather the not being hungry that was helping. Something much more manageable.

My friend has a cat and when he writes the best he claims that the cat is sleeping right between his monitor and keyboard. Is that a sustainable way to get you to write more? Heck no. Getting a cat to do anything is a losing battle. That isn’t to say that having your cat not meowing at your feet every 2 seconds isn’t helpful.

Is this groundbreaking stuff?

Not in the slightest.

Will every factor be helpful/controllable?

Nope.

But each little piece you can add to your arsenal is a step in the right direction. Or dare I say the “write” direction. I’ll take my comedian check now.