Lonna Whiting

Crafty writer, strategic thinker, curious learner.

Archive for the category “Inspiration Killers”

Sleepiphanies and Writemares

Last night around two in the morning, I woke up with a gazillion writing ideas funneling through my semi-conscious mind. Creative ideas. The kind that I hadn’t had in a long time. I thought up several blog post topics, fodder for a short story and even a few lines for a new mediocre poem.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write these amazing ideas down, a fatal detail that would leave my well-meaning, practical-minded writing mentors very disappointed.

I didn’t write my ideas down, everyone. Do you know what that means? I fell back asleep, and when I woke up, my Man Booker Prize-winning novel was  like a distant dream. Mere dust in the attic of my mind.

Because a large part of my job requires me to be creative all the time, I don’t always have enough energy left over at the end of the day to work on other projects that are near and dear to my heart. So when – what I call sleepiphanies – hit me in the dead of the night, I intend to jot my ideas down and comb through them when I’m more awake in the morning.

Emphasis on intend to jot down.

There’s something about sleepiphanies that don’t seem to incite enough wakefulness in me to seek out pen and paper. I leave a notepad and a pen on the bedside table for those times when I am awake enough to scribble down my thoughts. Probably a good third of my MFA thesis was written this way, half awake in the darkness of my bedroom. But the real world happened, and along with it the job that slowly started eating up the kind of creative time I carved out for myself during graduate school.

My once-coveted sleepiphanies are beginning to feel more like writemares because I’m just not listening to them. And I’ve had it. So I’ve developed a series of steps that will hopefully encourage me (and you) to not just roll over and go back to sleep, but to listen to those sleepiphanies and write them down in a fully awake state. I’m calling it: The Lonna Whiting Method to Conquering Writemares and Embracing the (Un)Common Sleepiphany.

Here we go.

The Lonna Whiting Method to Conquering Writemares and Embracing the (Un)Common Sleepiphany

NOTE: All exercises must be performed at the moment you are awake enough to think to yourself: “Oooh, that’s a good idea, I should write that down.”

1.  Sit upright in bed and bite tongue. Grab sheet of paper – first thought, best thought. Find Kleenex. Dab bleeding tongue.

2. Roll over onto sleeping partner. Awaken and anger him/her. Use guilt as fuel for wakefulness. Grab pillow to defend self from angry elbows. Locate paper and pen. Write.

3. Roll off bed. Hit floor. Use pain as creative motivation.

And …

4. Sleep one less hour a night. Use time to write more. Understand there’s only so much time. Conquer time to make time. To think, create and write.

Which technique will you try the next time a sleepiphany hits you?


Are you a Non-Writer Writer?

Here’s what I know.

I know how to use a calculator to balance my checkbook, but that doesn’t make me an accountant.

I know I’m pretty handy with the mirror and a flashlight when examining moles for discoloration or suspicious changes, but I’m no dermatologist.

I also know there’s very little else that irks a writer more than when non-writers think they know how to write.

What’s a non-writer writer, you ask? Non-writer writers are a specific type of person, and they are often colleagues and even close friends to people like me, a writer writer. Non-writers have these funny little character traits in common with one another. They think they are writers even if they aren’t, which of course is like me calling myself a sports medicine doctor because I wrapped my boyfriend’s sprained ankle once.

Who is a Non-Writer Writer?

A non-writer writer has a writing need and follows up a meeting with a ten-page pdf email attachment outlining the project with “suggested copy.”

A non-writer writer is known to say: “I’m no writer, but …” and then continue to talk about what they would have done.

A non-writer writer will spend a whole week on one draft of a project proposal, the approximate time it would take an actual writer to draft five proposals and still have time for lunch and a nap.

A non-writer writer has never faced 40 hours a week navigating Microsoft Word exclusively.

A non-writer writer can’t make farm equipment, rectal exams or taxes seem exciting and compelling.

Now that I’ve briefly outlined who a non-writer writer is, perhaps you’ve identified with this personality a little more than you thought you would. Please don’t be offended. I’m not offended when people tell me I’m not an accountant or dermatologist! It’s perfectly fine to be a non-writer writer; the cure is simple: Next time you’re itching to say: “I’m no writer, but …” don’t say it at all, and let the writer writer in the room do what she does best: write.

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