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Take Naps While You Write

Two summers ago, my wife, Katherine Roy, was Jules Feiffer’s assistant and TA for a class he taught at Dartmouth College. Through that, I had the amazing opportunity to watch a master at work. Jules is 82 years old and the guy can still produce comics (he drew The Explainers for the Village Voice for 40 years!), children’s books (Bark George, The Odious Ogre) and lectures like lightning.

With all the energy he exudes it was not surprising to see him take naps all the time, at least one if not two or three throughout the day for 10-20 minutes at a time. At first, I figured it was because he’s 80 years old and he needs more time to rest but he told me he’s been taking naps his entire life, since his twenties, because:

“Naps make the work better.”  — Jules Feiffer

He explained that his subconscious solves problems that his conscious brain cannot. So, if he has writer’s block, illustrator’s block, teacher’s block, whatever, he’ll go to sleep and most often he’ll have a new idea when he wakes. If not, at least he’s rested and has more energy to fight the problem.

And he’s not alone. I recently learned that the Coen Brothers do the same thing. They admitted in an interview I heard on the Creative Screenwriting podcast that during the writing process they spend more time napping than they do writing!

If Jules and the Coen Brothers – three very active creative powerhouses – benefit from a few winks throughout the day because it makes the work better, I’m game to try it!

The best part will be that I’ll be working while I sleep.

Categories: Blog
  1. 07/29/2014 at 3:24 PM

    I read this as I am about to fall asleep. This would be the second time this week I read something about a nap. I do seem to have new ideas afterwards.

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