Have you ever noticed how you don’t see many authors out between midday and 3pm?
Maybe you think it’s because they’re busy tap-tap-tapping away at that masterpiece, like a tortured genius suffering for their art? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong!
So, where are they?
Sound asleep, of course!
It’s not a secret as such, it’s common knowledge in the industry. So, I’m not really spilling the beans. However, I am going to let you in on the whole rite of passage. I’m here to walk you through, step by step, all you need to know to live, work and sleep like an author.
Writing can be expensive, time consuming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With my six steps to successful napping, you can forget your writers’ groups and expensive courses. Below is a list of everything you’ll ever need and why.
Before I go on, I must tell you, that it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a good deal of experience and skill to master the afternoon nap.
Good authors, for example, never dribble over the keyboard. Never snore so loud as to upset their number one fan asleep at their feet. And, experienced authors know the importance of structure. You must consider the setting, the inciting incident, the potential for conflict, the conclusion, and the resolution.
Step 1. SETTING
If you want to be a real-life author, don’t shell out cash on that conference or that new laptop. Invest in comfy furniture. Setting is all important. It paints the perfect scene, provides the atmosphere, the ambience if you will. With the right setting, the author can drift off into a world of mystique; free to dream of incredible, far off places.
You must furnish your workspace appropriately, with a couch that you can stretch out on. Or if you have a favourite chair, make sure to invest in a good footrest. Never write in a dingy cold room, where your mind is forced to focus for hours on end. It must be a warming environment, pictures on the walls, a plant or two for colour, and perhaps some soothing music in the background.
Step 2. Dialogue
Put simply, there shouldn’t be any! Dialogue is hard enough to get right when you’re awake and writing. Don’t get it wrong here. Turn your phone off from midday ‘til 3.
There’s time for conflict in every story, but it shouldn’t come yet. Make sure you’re prepared. Too many newbies are woken from slumber too early because they’ve forgotten to turn off their darn phone. Or worse, they’re waiting for that publisher to call with news of their last manuscript being accepted. You must resist any urge to have your phone on. If you’re in an environment with other people, lock the door when you first sit down to write.
Step 3. Inciting Incident
Start your morning off with a good hit of caffeine or sugar or both. Sugary biscuits work well at around 10 – 11 am. By midday, your hypoglycaemic brain should be shutting down.
In the winter months, bung the heating right up so that your workstation is positively roasting.
Never underplay the power of a little bourbon in your mid-morning coffee. Just sayin’.
Step 4. Conflict
By late morning to early afternoon, you might start to witness your first conflicting event. If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ll be tired, no doubt, but you might also be thinking your story is hitting a key moment that will need your full attention and writing skill.
Let’s be honest, you’ll be in no state mentally to write this passage. Nevertheless, as your eyes begin to droop for the first time, your desire for productivity can resist the urge to sleep. A common problem for the inexperienced.
Your tired brain, trying desperately to stay awake, might say something like, “Let’s check our emails. There’s sure to be something that needs our attention.”
No new emails.
At this point, your brain will almost beg you to keep at the keyboard. “You’ve got another hour in you. Keep going. Push through. It’s a crucial part of the story. It needs our attention now.” And, before you know it, your keen sense of excelling as an author kicks in, and you agree to soldier on.
The Final Conflict
As in every good tale, this is the point you’ll think the main character is doomed. There is no way of sleep now. Or is there? At some point in the next fifteen minutes, your eyes will droop again as you go over the same sentence three times, and your brain will want a brief break. It’s here that the answer will present itself. A miracle of miracles. An idea impossible to pass up. Facebook!
You must log in to Facebook in case there’s anything super important you need to see. You scroll down the meaningless list of your non-writer friends taking photos of their lunch, until your eyes practically glaze over with sleep and you have victory in sight. Conflict conquered. You can now stretch out on the sofa and drift off. Sweet dreams, dear author. You’re almost there.
Step 5. Conclusion
You must wake refreshed. Ready to tell yourself that as soon as you get home from school pickup, afternoon grocery shopping and various other tasks, you will attack that manuscript with gusto.
Of course, by the time you get all that done, it’s your kid’s basketball or football practise and next it’s dinner time and then there’s the school concert you’d forgotten all about.
Finally, before bed that night, you must curse yourself for wasting so much quality writing time. Think how much writing you could have done if you’d stayed awake? You fool!
Step 6. Resolution
After you’ve given yourself a good yelling at for wasting so much quality writing time. You must convince yourself that you’ll never do it again. Make a fist and punch at the air with absolute conviction because tomorrow you will be much more productive. And, say it like you truly mean it. Nothing will stop you tomorrow! Nothing!
You’ll go to bed that evening with the air of an accomplished writer, knowing that in your mind your masterpiece is as good as finished. Your publisher and fans are going to be so amazed, and the book will sell by the millions. Why wouldn’t it? It’s pure genius.
You drift off to sleep dreaming of your finished book being read and adored all over the world. You are swamped with publishing offers of sequels and bags of cash. You move to a majestic castle on a hill by the ocean under the bluest skies, with your perfect family smiling, delighted in your achievements, and everybody lives happily ever after. The end.