IWSG VI: When Research Turns Scary, How Do You Sleep?
[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]
I sat at my kitchen table just the other night, flipping through a couple of different research books I’d ordered from the library.
* Note the photo to the side, Exhibit A: my kitchen table, my I-Pad, my son’s dinosaur pen, and my favorite purple notebook. The stack of books you see in the picture is one of two stacks.
I had just read through an entire introduction on benevolent spirits and first hand accounts from a demonologist when my heart sped up. I glanced from wall to wall, back over my shoulder, listening for any unusual sounds in my house.
Is it real? I wondered.
Part of being a writer for me, is the ability to feel and see things as if I’d actually been through them. My body certainly believed whatever I was reading was very real in the moment. And when my cat turned the corner in the kitchen, just a moving shadow in the corner of my eye, well, he scared the holy Moses out of me.
Research can be a wonderful thing. In science, it gives you the what’s been done, the next questions, basic facts and formulas to use as a foundation. In writing, I follow the same steps to bridge the histories with whatever world is stirring in my own mind.
Then the fears kick in.
I admit, I was the kid with my head in my own mother’s lap at the movie theater after I’d begged to see Aliens 2 with her and my brother. “No mom! I’m not too little! I’ll watch the whole movie, I swear!”
I, again, was the little girl too scared to walk across the floor in the basement, seeing imaginary JAWS coming out from under the couch hungry to eat me. So I jumped from couch to couch to the stairs if I ever had to go down the basement for who knows how many months.
Research is critical, and I thought I grew up. I thought I could wear an investigative hat this time.
So I face a dilemma. Finish the research, or manage my heart rate so I can sleep. Last week, I think I went three or four days wondering what was really hiding in the shadows late at night. Every groan in the house, every little shifty shape on the walls or the carpet set my imagination into a full on sprint.
Sigh. I have to finish this book though. After a week of rest from my research I am finally sleeping again. But I have to go back.
Question: Ever been there? I’d love to hear how you manage to sleep and research scary things.
Thank you 🙂
And a big thank you to this month’s hosts:
Posted on March 2, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged Cloud Nine Girl, Erika Beebe, IWSG Post, Researching story elements. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.
I’m a big fan of the paranormal, and I love doing that sort of research. But yes, I do sometimes lie in bed at night listening to sounds and wondering what they are. Usually the cat! I eventually get past the fear as it turns into curiosity. I’d likely be the first to die in a horror movie because of it! *LOL*
Haha! Hilarious Christine. Now that thought of death in the theater is something I can ponder as I study. Thank you for stopping in today.
You are braver than I am! I don’t write scary much less read it! I realized long ago I am not that girl. Good luck to you and thanks for dropping by my blog…
You are braver than I am! I don’t read or write scary. I realized long ago I am not that girl! Good luck and thanks for dropping by my blog!
I totally get that Lisa. It’s hard thinking I am actually writing it after being plagued by nightmares of scary things as a kid. Thank you also for stopping in. 🙂
Ha, ha, that sounds totally creepy. My problem wasn’t with research but with my book trailer. There are some scenes in my second book that involve spiders. (No idea why I did this to myself.) I’m arachnophobic and absolutely hate spiders. When it came time to do the trailer, I knew I had to include an image with spiders. I was so creeped out while making it, that I was cringing away from the computer the whole time. I’m surprised I haven’t had nightmares over it, since I used to have them about spiders as a kid, and still do on occasion. Good luck finishing your book!
Haha indeed! Thank you for sharing your story and fears about spiders. I haven’t even thought about the trailer! Yikes! Lol. Oh boy. I will have to report back next week how I slept over the weekend or if I had to call in a group of religious leaders to cleanse my house just to ease my mind. 😉
Wow, if you can put all those feelings into words, you’ll have a real winner. Make everyone else scared.
Thank you Susan. I sure aim too, as long as I don’t keep scaring myself and get it done with. I appreciate you stopping by. Have a great rest of your day.
I don’t think I could write really scary stuff – just for that reason. I hated large bodies of water after watching Jaws as a kid. With a great deal of begging, my family got me to go snorkeling with them inside a shark cage (sharks outside, us inside) and that actually helped. Real life is often more safe than our imaginations.
Oh my goodness! You are so brave! A shark cage? I am so scared of going that deep under water. But you’re right. Sometimes you have to do something you’re scared of to conquer the fear. Thank you for stopping in. 🙂
I love reading scary stories, but I learned somewhat quickly that I can’t read them at night. It has to be broad daylight otherwise there’s no sleep for me! 😉
I think that’s great advice. Especially since my reading material suggests scary things come out better at night. Thank you for stopping in Lynda. 🙂
Is there anything waiting on the Other Side for us to leave open the door a crack by our researching things that cannot be but unknown to us … are!
My brothers taught me very young to be skeptical. I’m sure one day a man with a chainsaw will leap out and I’ll be like, yeah, whatever.
Keep up the good and scary work!
You’re brothers sound very smart and protective Heather. I think mine would have been coaxing me to run off scared. Lol. Thank you for stopping in. 🙂
Feeling that fear is perfect. Get it all down and use it now or in another work. Capturing emotion is your job. Sorry, research sucks sometimes.
Anna from elements of emaginette
Thank you Anna. I hope to journal it out and use it like you suggested. I hope you have a great rest of your week.
Actually, scary things don’t scare me, but I did enjoy reading your post for today, Erika. The only time I remember something scary was as a child when I dreamed of a lion outside the bedroom window. And research is the favorite part of writing for me. Maybe just keep the lights on!
Thank you Gail. I appreciate you stopping in. I think a lion outside of my window would scare me too. I think I will turn every light in the house on. 🙂
Research usually does not keep me awake, but there are some horror movies that have–Paranormal Activity was one.
Me too! The second one was way worse with the little one. Thank you for stopping in Tamara.
You need to use that powerful imagination in your stories. You might need to sleep with the light on, and a 9-iron next to the bed, and have your best friend or sister’s number on speed dial, but you need to write the story!
Thanks for visiting my blog. Mary at Play off the Page
Thank you for the awesome encouragement Mary. I will definitely do everything you suggested and I like the 9-iron idea especially. Makes me feel tough…lol
I’m 19 years old, and honestly I’m still scared of going in the basement by myself, and if I’ve watched a scary movie recently or can’t get a terrifying thought out of my head I can’t sleep without my dog by me! Loved this post, good luck with your writing!!! 🙂
Thank you so much Jessica. I appreciate your honesty. I want a dog so bad. Currently I am renting a house but as soon as I can get my own place I want two! They do make me feel safe. 🙂
Research can be tricky. And those dark shadows. Gotta be careful there. Last thing you want to do is run into the Vasta Nerada in a dark alley, or even your own house.
I can’t recall the last time I did anything too scary. Well, I did do some research on Area 51 that led to me watching a number of “alien autopsies” and such. Even if I don’t believe it, it’s still kind of creepy and I believe I turned all the lights off in the house and made a mad sash for the bed as fast as possible.
Thank you for sharing your own scary stories. I think an alien autopsy might be a bit freaky for me too! I wish you much success and I will definitely keep the flashlight near my bed 🙂
Took out some books on witches, witch craft and wicca for research for my work in progress. I purposely stayed away from anything dark because I knew I’ll freak out by every creak and jump at every shadow. I even stay away from reality TV shows and documentaries about ghosts and aliens. So we’re the same. But research is important to make our stories more plausible and believable. There’s only so much you can make up. I suggest to do your research in spare doses and keep whatever area you’re in well lit.
I always feel better when I meet others like me. Thank you Lidy for sharing your personal account. I think I will try the small doses this weekend. Hopefully I can get quite a bit of writing time in. Thank you also for stopping in. 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever researched anything frightening. Unless you consider sea kelp scary.
Finish off the research. You can handle it!
Thank you Alex, and I bet there’s a way to make sea kelp scary…lol.
You have that permeable imagination that every writer needs, Erika. How could we write believably if we didn’t believe? Yes, I’ve been there. I started having heart problems while writing the first draft of one of my books, the stress on the main characters was so bad. When I finished the draft, the symptoms disappeared. It was freaky. Happy writing!
That’s an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with me. I do believe that’s why writers are so good at what we do. We live it, breath it until we feel everything we need to make a story real. I appreciate you stopping in today and have a wonderful week. 🙂
The dilemmas of having a writer’s imagination !
It is a love…and a nail biting fear of content all at the same time…lol Thank you so much Damyanti for stopping in. 🙂
I don’t research scary, but I do see what I research around me. Meaning: I research ancient man–from a million years ago. As I walk through our 21st-century world, I clearly see these noble creatures walking, thriving, living with their families on the vastness of an unspoiled Nature. Very fun–and rejuvenating.
Thank you Jaqui. You mention something that resonates with me, how what we research is part of what we love. It is fun and definitely helps me too feel more energy. 🙂