This Happens Alot

As I recall, at about 1:30 a.m., I received a direct, immediate revelation that told me how to make my current dissertation draft awesome.  It was all so clear.  Entire paragraphs seemed to appear before my eyes, and sitting here at my kitchen table, lucid and awake, I feel certain that if I had gotten out of bed and opened my laptop, I would have been taking dictation from God.  And then I would have been able to rest in the assurance that yes, I will finish grad school on schedule.  But no, no I did not.  Exhausted and thinking about all the work I needed to do today, I chose sleep over transcendence, and now I’m sitting here at the kitchen table on my second cup of tea trying to figure out how to make the conclusion to my second chapter less shitty. It’s possible that if I want to become a better writer, I’m just going to have to become a less responsible person, the type of person who stays up til 4:00 a.m. writing and then sleeps til noon.

Though chances are that if I had gotten out of bed last night, it would have been like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry wakes up to write down a joke that came to him in his sleep but can’t make sense out of it the next morning.

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2 thoughts on “This Happens Alot

  1. This happens to me now and then (not too often, thank god, because I like my sleep). Usually, I get up, stalk out to the desk, grab a piece of scratch paper, and scribble down a few ideas, pace, mutter to myself, and scribble a few subsidiary points before heading back to bed. Sometimes those ideas continue to shine when morning comes, and I build on them. More often, they still *seem* to shine in the morning, and I go ahead and build on them, having learned that they’ll usually end up discarded two or three drafts later. But even in that second case, the just-before-sleep idea can help me break a logjam in my writing.

    BTW, I just discovered your site via your backlink at Historiann’s place, and I really like the posts I’ve had a chance to peruse so far. I’m bookmarking your piece on marking the first draft — I’m one of those profs who slips into railing against the passive voice when I should start by focusing on broader issues. You’ve laid out a nice blueprint here, so thanks.

    1. @Notorious: That’s a very flattering comment! Thank you for the encouragement.

      And it’s weird how the brain works. That happened to me again last week, and I DID stay up til 2 am writing stuff down. Then the next morning, it was pretty clear that that particular idea was going nowhere.

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