David Ogilvy, the advertising legend who brought genuine enthusiasm and classic salesmanship to Madison Avenue, wrote about the value of naps for a writer. He was not referring to not being tired, but to using the power of your unconscious; his trick was to upload information about a project … and then catch forty winks, telling his mind to have something for him when he woke up.
It made sense to me. Your brain is not a muscle, it is a complex beast unlike any other organ on the planet. You can store, process, and create massive amounts of source material … whole worlds of possibilities, vast universes of thoughts and ideas.
Trust me, for copywriters and marketers … naps are golden. I’ve done it a thousand times, maybe more, in the course of twenty years as a writer. Stuff my head with information … and then nap for as long as my system requires it. Twenty minutes or two hours, it doesn’t matter.
And when I wake up, I make sure to put a pen and paper close by … because the headlines and the copy will gush out.
While you are awake, and especially when you are struggling with ideas, you are your own worst enemy.
However, asleep, our deepest self takes over.
It is the true genius hidden within all of us: our unconscious mind.
You can fill in the information while you are tired. That is more or less tedious work: read the reports, record the statistics, interview people on the phone.
But you should never really try to write while stifling a yawn. For a seasoned copywriter and marketer, being tired is a sign that it’s time to take a long break, including a nap. Let things simmer, settle, and process in your head.
Tired, you’ll have trouble copying for three hours … and it won’t be as good as the fifteen minutes of writing you do after an hour’s nap.
If necessary, doubt this advice. Most struggling writers I know are skeptical and afraid to try it. The puritanical work ethic has taken hold deep in our souls, and naps are considered a waste of time at best … and evil escape at worst. Some writers laughed at the suggestion. However, never the best.
Your brain is not a muscle. It’s more like a fantastic little town of libraries, warehouses, and think tanks. And all the elves who work as slaves are smarter than you … and yet they are completely dedicated to you.
Most of the writing that you struggle to create while tired will have to be scrapped. It will be rubbish.
Most of the writing that I have captured after a “work nap” has remained, with some editing, in my final piece.
Think about it.
Now, I’m going to snuggle up with the terrier and let the elves discover another project for me.