where the writers are

You can learn useful things about yourself when you're lying awake in the middle of the night not doing anything. Things that might make a difference the next time you find yourself awake when you don't want to be.  For me, it's the most mentally chaotic state to be in--my mind pings from one scenario to another, and yet my body is still.

Or is it?  What I'm learning is that mind and body affect one another equally.  It's tempting to think that insomnia is all in the mind--that the body's at the mercy of the racing mind, and if I could just slow that down...Actually, I've noticed that when muscles tighten in my back or neck, my mind reacts, jumping around faster.

If I try to use the time to think about something, say, what to do with a certain  character in my novel, maybe get rid of him altogether, I can't concentrate worth squat.  When I really get going, I'm in one thought for about 3-5 seconds before popping to the next scenario.

It's interesting to observe yourself.  Don't try to get anywhere.  It's an experiment.  The nice thing is, this approach  lets you off the hook.  You don't have to accomplish anything; you don't have to get back to sleep or solve some thorny problem.

The night isn't really barren

I manage to relax one muscle in my back, and my mind quiets...just a little bit. Or I pay attention to my breath. The breath reveals where I'm tense, and being tense is okay.  Then I try breathing in a way that feels good in my body. But maybe I'm too worked up to pull that off.  Okay, so where does my body feel comfortable?  Oh, my feet are actually feeling happy there under the covers...

It's kind of enjoyable.  And I surprise myself.  I go back to sleep.

Or maybe I don't. Maybe the concentration lasts five minutes, and maybe the five minutes is chopped up between worrying.  That's okay. It's incremental.  Writing a novel is incremental.  Raising children takes a long time.  Learning to quiet down inside is a skill, and it takes practice.

And tomorrow night, maybe you'll sleep like a kitten.