The Writer's Den

UCLA's creative writing student group

Summer Experiments: Furniture For Taking Forty Winks

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Okay so to explain the strange title, I literally had no idea what to name this post, so I went on thesaurus.com to search for synonyms for beds. And the first result came up with the definition “furniture for sleeping,” which made me laugh out loud because it just seemed so simple it was funny. And then I thought, hm, this title could use some alliteration. Once again, a thesaurus search somehow led me to a synonym for sleeping, i.e “taking forty winks.” I’ve really no clue why it’s forty. I mean, if I could wink forty times and get the equivalent of eight hours of sleep, that would be amazing.

Anyway. A couple weeks ago, we announced a new writing strategy for y’all to try out, which was to only write while in bed. Seems simple enough, but perhaps simple isn’t necessarily the best way to go about things. To explain, we had our lovely Director of Volunteering, Shriya, participate in this method. And let’s say I did too, because I’m currently writing this post while lying in bed. Productivity.

This is what Shriya had to say: “Lying down in bed seemed like a great idea, until I realized my body wanted to sleep much more than I wanted to write. I just kept falling asleep before I got anything more than a couple words down. And since I’m working on a song right now… I kept wanting to sit up so I could sing properly. All in all, I think I composed more in the shower than I did in bed.

Good idea, Shriya, perhaps that should be our next w- oh wait. It might be rather difficult to make that a writing strategy because… words… would get wet… Yeah.

I’ve written while in bed on multiple occasions, so I’ll explicate those past experiences. Sometimes I have way too many thoughts running through my head at night, and I get restless. So I’ll take out my phone and start writing, be it my thoughts and feelings or a story idea. Eventually, those thoughts begin to slow, and I would write until exhaustion overtakes me. I think that writing, especially at night right before you sleep, really helps you put an order to your thoughts so that you might fall asleep more peacefully or quickly as opposed to letting your mind wander. These entries could be about anything, from a recap of the day’s events, to whatever else is in your head at the moment. I also find that night time is when my thoughts flow more freely, unfiltered and unrestrained.

But, if you actually want to be productive, it may be better to sit up straight while writing. When you have a goal you intend to fulfill while writing, it may be better to be as awake as possible by not lying in bed. Basically, this strategy is particularly good for falling asleep and letting your words run one right after the other, without fear of your own limitations.

As usual, let us know at thewritersden@ucla.edu if you want to send in a writing strategy of your own. We will be your guinea pigs.  And leave a comment if you ever try these approaches out for yourself – maybe your experience is different than ours. We’ve got more strategies coming your way. So prepare yoselves, and happy writing!

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