Night Writer

bathroom1I didn’t want to wake up. And I certainly didn’t want to write. After all, I was in a deep sleep. But my muse moved me. In fact, it poked, prodded and almost pushed me out of bed. I didn’t ask for it. I was minding my own business when my dream morphed from senseless to significant. In my dream, I was suddenly rewriting the prologue to my novel. Words flowed like a river. (Words flowing? It must a dream.) Then, in the midst of the dream, I told myself to wake and write down the words.

Sure enough, I woke. The words still fresh in my mind, but I’m warm and cozy. I must negotiate with my body to rise.

“Get up and write this down before you forget it,” my muse tells me.

“No, I’m warm and comfortable,” I argue with myself.

“Get up now or you’ll forget your ideas by morning.”

“No, I won’t forget!”

“Yes, you will!”

“No, all I have to do is remember a keyword and I’ll recall the entire idea,” I insist. I roll over and glance at the clock. It’s 3:00 am.

My muse is annoyed. “Get UP. You’ll forget the idea by morning—just like last time.”

I stand my ground. “No, I’ll remember this time.”

“Seems to me you’ve wanted to rewrite the prologue to your novel for a year. Now is your chance. But, if you’re not going to get up, sweet dreams.”

“Thanks. Now let me sleep.”

My muse pauses, and then speaks. “Did you know you have pen and paper in the nightstand?”

“OK, OK, I give up! You win.”

I slowly roll out of bed in the darkness, wife sleeping soundly. I grab the pen and paper placed in the nightstand for just this occasion and lumber to the master bath. Hunched over the side of the tub, I sit to write.

The words flow smoothly, just like my dream. I squint to see them beneath the shadows cast by the dim nightlight. I wonder if I will like what I’ve written in the morning hours. After all, the “next morning” is a cruel critic.

My feet are bare and cold on the frigid tile floor. And the tub doesn’t exactly warm my butt. After I capture my thoughts, I waddle back to bed. Soon, I’m warm and cozy but my mind continues to run.

My muse pokes me again. “Change that opening sentence, I’ve got a better idea.”

“No, it’s fine as is.”

“OK, but it won’t get you published.”

“Look, I’m tired. It’s good enough!”

“Isn’t the opening sentence the most important sentence in any book? Are you content with good enough? Hmmm, wonder how many agents are looking for something just good enough?”

“That’s not fair. I got up once already.”

“Didn’t you just blog about the importance of writing great opening lines?”

“F-I-N-E! I’ll get up.”

And so, this night writer gets up with pen and paper and writes again. An interesting thing happens. The second experience is better than the first. My ideas feel more alive and alluring. I sense I was meant to write them. With some editing, they just might help me sell this novel.

As I climb back into bed, I realize that good ideas can strike anytime—day or night. When they do, run with them, not from them. Give them voice by rising to greet them. Edit them in the fresh morning light.

I’ve been waiting for this idea for over a year. It came to me in the night watches before the light of day. I was ready, if not willing, to greet it. And while I don’t know if this idea will help land an agent, I do know this:  It’s better to listen to your ideas than to argue with them. Especially, when they insist on talking to you in the dead of night.


The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.

Blog entries are posted every other Thursday.

You may contact Jim Magruder at:

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hilarious, and so true! The other night before going to sleep, I had an idea for a novel. Sadly, I let laziness win, justifying it with the thought that if the idea rocked enough, I’d remember. Nope. Lost it. Sigh.

    • Jennifer, Loved your comment below. You are too funny. But isn’t it true? If we don’t get out of bed and write it down, it’s GONE by morning. Thanks for checking out my blog again. I am so committed to helping encourage other writers (beginners and pros) and that’s why I created it. Also, thanks in advance for giving us (me) the chance to contribute to your blog. It is a good opportunity to meet your readers, cross-promote our blogs, and inspire each other. I’ll have more to send you tonight.

      Jim Magruder Blog: (Press Control and click link to activate.)


  2. Great article! (But you know that the bathroom does provide a more comfortable place to sit than the edge of the tub!)

  3. Yep, take it when the urge strikes. I’ll write on any paper available.

  4. I love moments like that. I wish they would come more often!

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