I recently read a blog post that suggested if you needed to remember your creative ideas that come in the night while you are sleeping, just make up a song about the idea and since song lyrics are stored in a different part of the brain, your idea will stay safely stored there until morning when you can get back to you writing. This sounded like a great idea. The next time I’m having trouble sleeping because in my head I’m working out the next plot device, I can just start writing a little song, a sonetta, or a ditty. It certainly sounds easy enough. I love the idea of all my creative thoughts packing up their suitcase to move to a new and different part of my brain. Just like finding a clean and relaxing hotel room.
BUT, wait! I’m a children’s poet. I’ve tried writing poems at night in bed while I’m trying to sleep. Wouldn’t my creative projects be stored in the same place as that song? Wouldn’t the rhythm of the song be the same as the rhythm of my poem? I already know this doesn’t work. There are thousands of nights when I’ve had an idea for a poem and spent time in my dream state working out the rhyme and meter–a strong marching cadence. I’ve even congratulated myself on the elegant rhymes, the excellent word choice, the stunning verbs, the fantastic images I’ve been able to pack into a few short lines. I chuckle at the funny twist I’ve been able to roll into the last line. I feel so good about what I’ve been able to accomplish in the tight little verse, that I’m able to lull myself back to sleep. When I awake, I remember the good time I had putting together my children’s poem. I might even remember what the topic of the poem was, but I’m usually not able to retrieve my end rhymes, or the funny twist at the end. This drives me crazy. In fact, in the light of day, my little poem doesn’t sound so funny at all and the twelve lines I had in my sleep, now only comes out as four or eight.
This is why I have a handy little device by my bed–a note pad with a built in pen. The pad lights up when I remove the pen. This lets me jot down my ideas in the night. It doesn’t make my rhymes better, but it does store the thought until I can get up and work on the verses. It gives me peace of mind so I can go back to sleep until I’m ready to get up and play with the words and poetic lines. Of course this might be part of the reason my best working time is between 3 and 5 in the middle of the night. When the words want to come out to play, I want to be there to party with them.
Ah, the life of a children’s poet is a very strange lot.