Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finally An Explanation

What is a sleep deprivation experiment, you ask? Followed by, how could she tweet such a cliffhanger so early in the morning? Well let me explain...

Monday, I played catch up as most writers do after neglecting my writing and writer duties for a good few weeks. This included reading everything in my Google Reader. I struck gold. A past classmate and fellow writer was blogging about something writers always claim they do. And by writers, I mean the visiting writers that travel around the nation for "Reading Series" appearances on college campuses. At these events someone will always ask - "Could you talk about your writing process?" Nine times out of ten the writer will say they make time to get their writing done by getting up extra early to write before their day gets started. How simple, you think, how obvious, right? Then all the students leave thinking to themselves that they will do this early writing technique too (or some students opt for the stay up all night alternative). I, too, thought this every time I left one of these events, BUT I never actually did it.

Well, perhaps it's because it's a person I actually know and admire, but reading her blog the other day really jump started my motivation. So I set my alarm an hour before I usually get up and went to bed at a decent time. When my alarm went off, I mulled over my options (as is always the case when I say I'm going to get up early for anything). And I'll even admit I was going to let myself go back to sleep, I even tried to get back into a slumber. Yet, my guilt, I think, kept my mind clicking at a fast pace and sleep was no longer an option. So I got up and opened up the laptop and began pounding away on the keyboard. I decided to work on my novel project since that was the project I was avoiding the most. I started about 10 minutes after I planned too and I allowed myself distractions because complete focus that early is not normal for me. I wrote, I checked my email, I wrote, I checked facebook, I wrote, I took the dog out, I fed the dog, and I wrote some more.

It was about five minutes from when I told myself I'd call it quits and I thought I'd just stop anyways. I mean how much more could I write. I had 281 words, I was still stuck in the same scene (the first scene) and I had no idea where it was going or what was coming next. Guilt got a hold of me again. I could not quit early. Quitting early defeated the entire point of getting up early to dedicate time to writing. (Maybe I'll save "quitting early" for a time when the experiment becomes more of a habit) So I stuck the five minutes out and ended with 356 words. I was not blown away by the word count. However, put in perspective...I strive to write 500 words a day (I hardly do but that is my long-term goal). If I would have quit early I would have only been just over half way there. By sticking the five minutes out, instead, I was more like two-thirds of the way to my goal. And if I didn't get up early at all I would still be at zero words today. From that perspective I feel pretty good about my writing today.

So why call it the sleep deprivation experiment and not something with writing in the title? Because the hard part about this experiment is not so much the writing as it is the giving up of extra sleep time. I confess I LOVE to sleep. Some people tell me I sleep or want to sleep more than anyone else they know. Eight hours is never enough for me. I prefer to get a solid nine or ten hours in if I can. When I don't, I can be moody and short-tempered. YIKES, right? Well, day one results are in and it was a long, long, long day. But a GOOD one! I was up and alert for a solid two-hours before I wanted to crawl back into bed. But I was close to a Dunkin Donuts to snag a coffee and bring me back to life. I worked a good eight hours, took the pup to the dog park for an hour, and even got in a run. Current status --> TIRED. The couch never looked so good. But the extra encouragement throughout the day from friends that knew right away what I was doing this morning makes me ready to start tomorrow the same way.

In other new, before I go, I ordered East of Eden again along with Joshua Henkin's Matrimony. He was one of my very first graduate professors and I should have read his book years ago. My bad, Josh. But better late than never, right? The books are being shipped to an non-disclosed address for the safety of all parties and objects involved. I want to help the world love literature and read books, but on my own terms. You got me?

1 comment:

  1. Way to go on your experiment! Let's keep encouraging each other.