Friday, July 8, 2011

DEVOTION:Writing Keeps Me Awake

Insomnia, is it just a sleep disorder, or more to the point just an inability to sleep? Is it a curse put on writers by some malevolent anti-literature activist somewhere in the distant past? Why am I asking? Because when an idea comes into my mind to put onto paper I’m transformed into an insomniac, or could I be an inso-maniac?.

As the idea floats around in my mind late at night, I close my eyes but the idea keeps floating. I feel like my eyes are caught in a huge swell causing, not seasickness but, awake-ness. The only apparent cure? Jot the idea down.

As the night grinds on I toss and turn. Some call it fitful sleep. I don’t think there’s much sleep to it. Come daytime, I start writing and consign myself to many a waking hour as night rolls on. I live the story, refine it, wrestle and surrender to it. Then it is finished. The masterpiece (or is it a monster?) is completed. Now, sweet sleep, come to my eyes.

Alas, they stay open as though I, a tea man only, have had too many percolated cups of coffee. Why is this happening? I must send it off. But, too whom? Worry, worry, worry! As Ecclesiastes 5:3 puts it “As a dream comes when there are many cares…” implying, to me at least, fitful, non refreshing sleep. Did the author suffer insomnia when writing his Biblical book?

The stamps are licked, the manuscript sent, I crawl into bed but the mind goes chasing the post. The only sleeping pill it will accept is the publisher’s reply. If yes, I celebrate, but sleep is elusive. If no, self pity plays drums in the mind.

What is the answer to my sleeplessness? Prayer? That makes me think about it more! Quitting ? Not an option! Soft music? I want to write a better score! Maybe part of the answer is found in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” said Jesus. The apostle Peter put it this way, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter5:7). Maybe another part of the answer is, bury your idea for the night under the pages of scripture. Finally, I lie in bed and talk about other things with the Lord. Then, I doze off. Suddenly, the alarm rings. Another day begins. Another page to write, but at least I got a couple of hour’s good sleep!

Raymond N Hawkins (Tasmania) is retired after over 40 years as a minister. He enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and are now proud grandparents. Ray shares his insights in his first two devotional books in his 31 Day series, Marriage and Children. Ray lives in Tasmania, Australia, where he heads up a new Christian Fellowship and does relief preaching, community work and writing.


  1. Oh, Ray, you have my sympathy. The night watch is when mistakes I've made jump into my head. But also some really good ideas. So, after waking and not being able to recall them, I've
    learned to keep paper & pen next to my bed. I don't turn on the light, so it looks like chicken tracks next morning. But the brilliant thought(only to me)is saved!

  2. I agree that the hours of darkness are often those which yield great ideas. They are so elusive the next morning if we do decide to try and sleep on them. Perhaps this is why God gives us this insomnia, so they aren't lost. It's a great post, Ray, and Rita, I agree with you too.

  3. How I wish my hours of insomnia were as productive as yours. What few flashes of inspiration I've had come in the wee small hours.

  4. Ray, I share your frustration. I find the nights when ideas keep me awake tend to fall on days when I have to wake early! Thanks for your insightful post.

  5. When I lie awake for hours mulling over issues I often come up with ridiculous solutions which seem inspirational at the time but in the morning I know just won't work! When I manage to commit the problem to the Lord and then fall asleep, I usually wake up with the real solution! Hmmm. So why can't I learn?!!