You need to follow a routine. That’s what they tell insomniacs. Get up at the same time every day. Oh, sure, set that alarm for 6 on the weekend. That will regulate your sleep patterns.
I used to be an insomniac. I seldom slept more than four hours a night. In a sitcom, everyone laughs when the “insomniac” is caught snoring, because it proves that he or she does sleep. But I used to stay up and read till 1 or 2, and then get up at 5:30 to get to work by 7:30.
My insomnia stopped when I began to work at home. So the problem was simple: I wasn’t a morning person. Now I get my sleep, and my schedule is flexible. My motto is, Get it done. The time of day doesn’t matter.
Because of the tyranny of routine in the workplace, I very much enjoyed John Stilgoe’s column in The Guardian, “Is a daily routine all it’s cracked up to be?” Routines are said to help creativity and productivity, but a study of academic writing habits proved that it isn’t always helpful to write every day. You may lose your motivation.
Routines are good. It’s easier to make something a habit if you plan it in advance and do it daily; plus there’s the (controversial) phenomenon of “decision fatigue”, which implies that you should “routinise” as many choices as possible – such as when to get up and what to do first each day – to save energy for others. Some people are so disorganised that a strict routine is a lifesaver. But speaking as a recovering rigid-schedules addict, trust me: if you click excitedly on each new article promising the perfect morning routine, you’re almost certainly not one of those people. You’re one of the other kind – people who’d benefit from struggling less to control their day, responding a bit more intuitively to the needs of the moment. This is the self-help principle you might call the law of unwelcome advice: if you love the idea of implementing a new technique, it’s likely to be the opposite of what you need.
THREE MORE LITERARY LINKS.
1 Gene Wolfe, a literary science fiction writer, died on April 21. Last year I wrote at my blog Mirabile Dictu (here) about The Shadow of the Torturer, the first volume of Gene Wolfe’s award-winning quartet, The Book of the New Sun.
And in an article in The New Republic, Jeff Heer calls Wolfe the Proust of science fiction. He writes,
Wolfe, a celebrated writer of science fiction and fantasy with a deeply Catholic imagination, died on Sunday at age 87. Wolfe was a writer who occupied a unique niche by fusing together three seemingly divergent strands: pulp fiction, literary modernism, and Catholic theology. His four-volume masterpiece The Book of the New Sun (of which The Shadow of the Torturer is the first tome) is an almost indescribable combination of speculative Christian eschatology with a Conan the Barbarian adventure story, written in a prose that can fairly be described as Proustian.
3. Have you read the 11th-century Japanese writer Murasaki Shikibu’snovel, The Tale of Genji? That was my summer project a few years ago. In The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes about the Tale of Genji exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum.