Every writer has an itch. It can be a small itch, or a big itch, but it has to be an itch. Orlando in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando has a very big itch, one that is related to the whole body; when the desire to write takes over her, her entire body shakes and trembles and tingles (if you haven’t already read Orlando it is an amazing book). My itch is quite annoying as it happens to me… in the middle of the night.
Quite often I am enjoying a dream when it takes over. At first it is like an annoying noise in the background of a dream, but it gets louder and louder and finally, it wakes me up: words flash, bells go off, you name it, I have it. Then the trick is that before falling back asleep, I have to recite the words several times in order not to forget them. In truth, I am too lazy to write them down.
How does your writer’s itch manifest itself? Have you ever tried to control it or ignore it? What happens when you ignore the itch? Once I tried to sleep through the itch and it turned into a nightmare: someone over a loudspeaker was yelling my name, telling me to get up and write things down. I nearly fell out of bed when that happened. My advice: do not ignore the itch! Obey it! Amazing things have come from writers who follow their itch rather than fight it.
How can you encourage the itch? Give it permission to disturb you at any moment during your day (or night in my case). It’s unbelievable the words that will come at you! Truly. My friends used to tell me to take sleeping pills, but I always replied, “Why sleep when I could write the next best-seller? Let me sleep when I am dead”.