Jan 21, 2017

Night Writing

By Deb Graham

I’m swamped.

I’m a mom, an involved grandmother, a wife, active in my Church, my community, and three writer’s groups (plus three more online). I’m an author and writer. I've published thirteen books, and I'm currently working on two novels while researching one more, plus contemplating another cookbook, and scouting out magazines to sell articles to. I'm also in the middle of converting all of my books to audio book format, a time consuming task.

I juggle the household management, the yardwork, and most of the planning in our family. I’m a friend, and I try to reach out to those I don’t know as well. I'm accused of being a good listener. I sew, I donate to good causes, I encourage where I can, and take up service projects right and left. I’m an avid reader, but frequent migraines don’t always allow that pleasure. I have health issues that cause constant aching, sap my energy, concern the doctors, and trigger a little voice in my head to chant “If you take on one more thing, you’ll go up in a puff of smoke.”  

Our society touts a word I don’t understand. Multi-tasking. Honestly, is there any other kind of tasking? What is the opposite of multi-tasking? Uni-tasking?  Is that even possible? Are there really people who don't apply face creme while brushing their teeth or reach for notecards when waiting for a train to pass?

I sleep poorly. I’m so tired I’ve taken up sleep-writing. That’s not by choice, mind you. I’ve kept paper and pen by my bed for decades, because I find that place between sleep and wakefulness is where Great Ideas spawn. I don’t want to stay awake to remember them, or risk forgetting by morning. 

The last few months, my tired subconscious seems to go on without me. I wake up most mornings to scraps of paper on the floor beside my bed, all scrawled in a half-asleep, written-in-the-dark script. I don’t recall writing them!

Some are ideas for a scene in my novel, or a dialogue between characters I hadn’t figured out yet. Last week I found a note telling how to disguise the poison in an upcoming scene, and you can bet I wasn’t thinking about an Iranian souk as I fell asleep.

Some list things I need to buy next time I go shopping. One was a half-decent sketch for a neckline on that blouse I’m planning to embellish in my spare moments; I’ve also discovered  a book cover design that’ll fit the size I’ve been mulling, perfectly. One reminded me to check on my friend who had a new baby. Others baffle me. 

“Don’t Forget To Paint The Milk.”


“Delete Seattle.”

 I can tell you, that’s not going to go over well.

"Don't fear the grapefruit." 

uh, okay. 

Anyway, as I was whining saying, I’m a busy person. So if anyone can suggest a way to utilize my limited time and energy, I’m listening!

Some time ago, I attended a workshop on Writing Efficiently. One comment stood out. I’ve heard my whole life, it seems, that A Writer Must Write Every Single  Day, No Matter What. I never knew why, beyond the obvious: what doesn’t get written remains...well, unwritten.

The presenter said, “You must Write Every Day, even if it’s just a few lines. This will keep your project in the forefront of your mind. While you are doing other things, your inner self and subconscious can work together to move the story along. While you’re stirring a pot, a plot point may pop into your mind, or you’ll find that knot in your dialogue untying as you drive. Give your brain the tools it needs to multi-task.”

There were days, whole strings of them, when I was simply too swamped to get near my computer, let alone “squander time” writing. I complained, “How long can I call myself a writer if I’m too busy to write?”

 No more! 

Writing is a priority, no matter what else the rest of the day throws at me. I found he was right; while I’m racing pell-mell through my other tasks, my mind does wander to my current writing project, rewording a phrase, fleshing out a character. And, based on evidence, this goes on in the night, too.

 But I still have no plans to paint the milk. 


  1. I'm laughing. My job went from a sort of inventory which left time to write to a highly tech one which occupies my whole time and after work time. Writing has fallen by the wayside completely. Have. to. find. time. somewhere. What color would the milk be??? LOL

  2. Pink, I'd guess, or ice blue. My husband is an author,too,and his advice to people who can't find time to write is "Do it anyway, even if it's on 3X5 cards int he bathroom. If you write 160 words a day, that's enough for a full length novel in one year."

  3. Pink, I'd guess, or ice blue. My husband is an author,too,and his advice to people who can't find time to write is "Do it anyway, even if it's on 3X5 cards int he bathroom. If you write 160 words a day, that's enough for a full length novel in one year."

  4. You know, I keep trying to find all the extra time that people insinuated I would have once all our children were in school. The youngest is on his mission and I feel busier than ever. I think I'll try the note cards by the bed things. I've had some pretty interesting dreams as of late and thought I would remember them. Fun post. thanks.


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