You’ve probably been there before. All cozy beneath your blankets, finally ready to fall asleep, everything’s perfect.
Except a new idea for a story pops into your head. Out of nowhere. So long, good night’s sleep.
Why does this happen when you’re trying to fall asleep at night … or in the shower, or while you’re walking your dog? Because you’re (hopefully) not doing anything else. You’re not staring at your phone. You’re not watching videos. You’re just thinking. And thinking is the first prerequisite for coming up with ideas.
It happens even when you don’t want it to, at inconvenient times, because you aren’t giving your brain any other chance throughout the day to do the same thing. I know for a fact some of you eat lunch at your desks and multi-task until you have a headache. You never stop. You never give your brain a chance to rest.
So at the first opportunity – often when you go to bed – your brain kicks it into high gear. Not because it hates you, but because you’re not being very nice to it, honestly.
Spend a block of time at some point throughout the day – 10 minutes; an hour; whatever you have time for – set aside only for generating ideas. I would recommend as early in the day as possible – after a long day, when you’re in that frustrating state of too-tired-to-function but not-tired-enough-to-sleep, it can be more difficult to come up with a string of ideas and focus on them even for 10 minutes.
It’s not boring. It’s not a waste of time. It’s giving your brain a chance to finally get creative for a little while. Sometimes your brain has one really good idea, and it takes two minutes to write it down and make sure it’s in a safe place for later use. You can’t just deprive your brain of that time, especially if you happen to really enjoy sleeping.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.