The Insomniac’s Guide to Writing Your Story


This could be you... the glamorous life of a writer.

This could be you... the glamorous life of a writer.

 Welcome, my most intrepid reader. You have arrived at the twilight of my insanity. Breathe it in. Take a whiff… if you want to take the task of writing seriously then you might as well get comfy. We are going to go through this strange trip together. 

I thought I should start my first entry with tips on how to write a full story. And when should we start this seemingly simple step? At dusk, of course! What did you think I was going to say…? Tea time? First thing in the morning? Well, if you like to sip tea while scribbling your thoughts, then so be it. Just make sure it isn’t chamomile or one of those Sleepy Time drinks. And, you’re more than welcome to work at sunrise… though the only people I know who have such a luxury are housewives and writers who get paid to deliver. I am neither, and unless you’re J.K. Rowling, we are stuck on the same boat together!

  1. PICK YOUR NIGHT WISELY  If this is your first time venturing into the world of insomnia, you might not want to pick the night before your important morning meeting with the boss. Choose a normal, non-eventful night when you can work as late as you want to and sleeping through the day is a big reward, not a punishment.
  2. YOUR GOAL: FINISH THE STORYIf you’re saying to yourself, Oh I’ll write at least 2 pages and see how far I get from there, then just go to sleep. Such a goal is only permissible during the daytime, when your mind is already flooded with a million other responsibilities. If you’re devoting yourself to an entire night of writing, then use it. Write until your story is finished. If you need to set a deadline, then make sure that it’s time-related. For example… Okay, it’s 10 o’clock now. I’ll write for a minimum of 6 hours.
  3. COME TO THE TABLE PREPARED – If you have writer’s block a paragraph or two into your first or second page, then you haven’t prepared your story. In order to avoid hitting a mental dead end, take time before your overnighter to make an outline of your story. Know your characters, your plot, and feel confident with what you’ve created.  
  4. KEEP YOUR OVERNIGHTER A SECRET  Emergencies aside, no one needs to know how you’re doing or what you’re doing. Take this time to cut off from the world in order to focus on your project. You need as much as time as you can get not only to write, but to have moments where you can think about your ideas, process what you have written, and move on. 
  5. DRINK WATER, NOT COFFEE  A cup of caffeine means you’ll crash in a couple of hours. And you’ll crash hard. Bottom line: You don’t need it. Besides, you’re probably not drinking the recommended 10 billion cups of H20 that you need anyway. So now is the perfect time. 
  6. WEED OUT THE BAD DISTRACTIONS FROM THE GOOD ONES  Listening to Bach while you write or when you’re brainstorming might not be a distraction… playing online Scrabble with your friend from Idaho definitely is. Remember to pick motivational queues that will keep you awake and working on your story. 
  7. KARATE CHOP THROUGH THE WRITER’S BLOCK Sure, it happens. But, it doesn’t have to become the major setback in your insomnia. Writing itself is already a painstaking task, so when you come to a writer’s block, re-read the story to see how it flows. If you’re still stuck, take a 5 minute break. No more, no less. Find something to do that doesn’t require much effort. Listen to a song, smoke a cigarette, or, better yet, JUST KEEP WRITING!
  8. WRITE NOW, REVISE LATER  Don’t keep reading the 1st page. Just because you don’t like it now doesn’t mean it’s not well-written or doesn’t show promise. Remember: YOU’RE AN INSOMNIAC!!! Thoroughly editing your story requires a well-rested pair of eyes.  I’ve bid adieu to many stories by doing this, so don’t let it happen to you. Write through the bad grammar and fragmented sentences. Note major changes in a separate notebook or, if using Microsoft Word, activate the comments feature. 
  9. NO DRUGS! I know who you are, stoner. No judgments here, of course, it’s just that you and I both know you should not be high if you’re staying up late. Sure, you’ve done it before. But, you were probably surrounded by friends or painting or performing some stimulating task. Writing is different because, unfortunately, it’s boring. And no pothead can get through 8 hours of sitting in front of her/his notebook or computer without stumbling out the door or falling into a coma. 
  10. ONCE YOUR STORY IS DONE, SLEEP! – If you’re a natural insomniac, then that might be a problem. Do whatever you need to and get some rest. You cannot return to your story until you do. The next time you look at this budding bestseller, it’s all about revisions, revisions, revisions. Read it yourself for fun, then again like you’re the uppity editor-in-chief of the most prestigious publication in the world. Then, have your friends read it, then your dog. AND THEN… write it over. 

Some of these tips can apply to daytime trippers who have time to kill and a story to tell. But no matter when you decide to work, just remember that your story isn’t going to write itself. Stay committed, storyteller, and soon you’ll have a fine tale to publish. 

It’s 3am for me now. Hope you owls are burning the midnight oil… and then some. 

‘Til Next Time!


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