The pure joy of writing – a priceless blessing, unless you enjoy sleep

natalie-portman1.jpgI discussed it here intermittently all summer and any poor bastard/bastardess that crossed my path in the terrene world couldn’t get me to shut up about it. I was suffering from writer burnout.

I didn’t want to write about Italy. I didn’t want to write about Spain. I didn’t want to write about Spain’s topless beaches. And I really didn’t want to write about writer burnout. But I sucked it up and wrote anyway, because I’m a professional (at least that’s what I tell people).

The problem was an extended interval (like going on two years) of over-work and under-sleep, both of which were exclusively my fault. Each year my sleeping skills drop a little and it’s really starting to harsh my waking mellow. In addition to that deficiency, I was formerly loathe to say ‘no’ to any writing job no matter how time consuming, low paying and not getting me any nearer to meeting Natalie Portman it may have been. I’ve recently taken measures to rectify two of those three predicaments.

I’ve moved back to my cherished hometown of Minneapolis, which incidentally made a good showing earlier this week at the dangerously arbitrary “America’s Favorite Cities” poll conducted by CNN and Travel + Leisure. This brilliant scheme has allowed me to start a regimen where I sleep in the same bed every night. Furthermore, there are no Italian Noise-Making World Champions in my building doing training sessions at midnight, three, five and seven in the morning. Nor are there any insomniac Romanian carpet-whackers, toiling away with their rhythmic, gun-shot sounding pounding just before 7am every Saturday.

I also took a work break (of sorts, I never actually stop working, I’m sick people), which when combined with the sudden, lavish eight hours of sleep I was averaging per night cured me of my dreaded writer burnout with miraculous speed.

Now I’m back to my familiar Pure Joy writing form, where I furiously type all day, I lay awake at night writing and editing in my head (including in my dreams on certain occasions e.g. “Hey Natalie, which word is funnier, ‘ca-ca’ or ‘doo-doo’?”) and wake up without fail at 7.30am each day with no chance of going back to sleep, because I’m so damn excited to write.

Unfortunately, this development will have no immediate impact on ya’ll, my rapturous groupies, because all that ferocious writing energy – apart from this minute – is being wholly devoted to a massive, panicky, three week, gadget review project for a MSN shopping guide to be online the week before Thanksgiving. Next to travel and girls, writing about gadgets is my favorite kind of writing. And it doesn’t hurt that MSN pays well and promptly enough for me to actually have a merry Christmas this year, rather than a “It’s a Wonderful Life” Christmas, the director’s cut where the guardian angel gets waylaid in Vegas, I can’t afford to buy myself soup, much less sushi and I’m disowned by family and friends for giving out ‘recycled can gift packs’ for presents.

The downside is that I have a whole new sleep deprivation problem. Whether I go to bed at 10pm sober or at 2am with two bottles of wine in me, I’m up at the stroke of 7.30am. When I worked at the Federal Reserve Bank, if not for my flimsy dedication and a terrifyingly loud alarm clock, I couldn’t be coaxed out of bed until 11am. Now, even after a virtually sleepless 27 hour flight from Romania, I can’t sleep past 9.30. In truth, I’m starting to get a little exhausted again which, as we already know, is a one-way ticket back to “National Lampoon’s Writer Burnout Vacation”. Should that occur, please ignore my recycling of jokes from the writer burnout posts from this summer. And for those of you just joining us from my continuing Burma series over at Gadling, it’s all brand new material. Really, I don’t know where I come up with it.

Question of the day: have you ever loved your work so much it actually kept you up at night?

Please direct your answers and (for my Fed readers) wretchedly jealous hate mail to my comments section.

PS – Call me, Natalie.

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