Day Twelve – Let’s Dig and Delve
Most people connected to the Internet and using some sort of social media platform will have seen the quizzes going around like chain letters of old and the finger games with folded paper.
You have to answer personal questions, are given a score or a personality description and then you must pass it on. Frequently, one of the questions wants to know are you an owl or a lark.
We can get right into writing prompts because I’ll assume most people have already put themselves into a category!
It is an important question to answer – know yourself well if you want to create realistic characters with flaws, foibles and interesting features.
Although, as I suggest in the post’s title, during this catastrophic COVID19 pandemic, many of us would love to hibernate like bears and wake up in a few months with the crisis over and some semblance of normality we used to know!
Are you a lark?
- Describe your perfect morning.
- To what would you compare morning and why?
- Have you a morning ritual?
- How has the ritual changed over the years?
- Did you become a lark when you started working because you had to?
- Do you prefer mornings or dark?
- Have you an opinion or a story about a rooster?
- How do you know it is morning? What morning and evening sounds can you identify?
Think back to your childhood –
- Can you remember what mornings were like before you went to school?
- Did your mum work outside the home – was there a strict timetable to stick to?
- Were you looked after by someone other than family?
- Where were you living – city or country?
- Is there one particular morning you have never forgotten?
- What were mornings like when you attended school?
- Were you always early, or late – how did you get there?
- Was breakfast cooked or not?
- Did you have chores to do?
- Did you have pets to feed? Dogs to walk? Horses to groom? Cows to milk?
- What were mornings like when you went to high school – more independent?
- Did you look after your own uniform? Did you polish your shoes?
- Did you walk to school? With siblings, friends, boys and girls?
- Did you have a paid job like newspaper or junk mail delivery before school?
- Did you have to escort a younger sibling to their school, to kinder?
- How old were you when you took responsibility to make your own breakfast?
- How old were you if you had to help others in the morning – siblings, ill parent, grandparent?
Have you made a conscious effort to change a morning routine? Why?
- Write about what was/is/or could be your perfect alarm clock – this could be birdsong, a piece of music or a particular song, children’s laughter, a purring cat, a romantic kiss… or as my youngest daughter wrote in a writing workshop once, ‘my perfect alarm clock is one that is broken.’
- Did you have a routine for working days and another for weekends?
- What morning is/was your favourite and why? (Sunday is often a special morning even for those not religious but also special events like Easter or Christmas morning, or a birthday ritual!)
How has your morning changed during this COVID19 crisis?
Are You An Owl?
- What time do you normally go to bed – before or after midnight?
- Are you an insomniac? Have you a cure for insomnia or tried any that failed?
- Are you a shift worker? Has this disturbed your sleep patterns? How did it affect your metabolism?
- Did you have a bedtime routine as a child?
- Do you have an evening or bedtime routine now?
Did your sleeping habits change when children came along?
Was it a lifelong change?
Did anyone else in the house alter their sleeping patterns?
- What daily rituals do you adhere to?
- Do you get a second wind in the evenings?
- Do you have an afternoon nap? A siesta?
- Do you catnap? Do you have forty winks or longer?
Have you any stories about sleeping in, uncomfortable mattresses, disturbed sleep
Do you take earplugs and an eye mask when you travel?
How do you compensate for lack of sleep?
- Is there a place you like to go when you can’t sleep?
- What is your most poignant and memorable experience of being a night owl?
Write an opinion piece based on your life experience:
Different people have different behaviour patterns and preferences. However, most of us still need the obligatory minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night to look our best, function well and achieve our goals.
Humans are naturally polyphasic (multiple sleep times per day), just like our natural eating habits. Research is often conducted into the impact of cortisol, melatonin, and even caffeine on our sleep-wake cycles, how the use of these can be modified with lifestyle changes. Sleep can be changed based on lifestyle but sleep needs cannot.
The impact of artificial light from computer screens alone has a substantial effect on melatonin production and largely explains why people have trouble syncing their sleep-wake cycle with sunlight. Manipulation of artificial light is used by the military to help soldiers stay awake abnormally long hours and to adjust to different time zones or work shifts.
If I had free choice, I’d be a siesta person. Early to rise and late to bed, with a long nap after lunch.
From A Lark to An Owl
“….The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn,
God’s in his heaven;
All’s right with the world.”
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
I wouldn’t say I’m a lark, I don’t wake up singing, but I do love the mornings – especially those sunny mornings in spring and autumn with the grass still gleaming with dew. When I step out to a clear sky and the air warm, but not hot, I can smell the promise in those mornings that all is right with the world.
Backyard blackbirds flit from cherry plum tree to Photinia, rest awhile on the fence before singing their joy. Magpies peck the lawn before flying atop the gum trees and carolling, wattlebirds sup nectar from the grevillea and lorikeets munch from the seed block I’ve placed in the bottlebrush.
Most of my life I have been motivated to rise early and get on with whatever task is on the agenda – whether it be study, school, work, or play. One of six children, I was the one who woke the household much to the disgust of siblings – especially during the teenage years. No matter how late I went to bed, my body clock had me rising early to breakfast or I’d suffer a headache. I couldn’t lie in bed until noon like my older sister, Catriona or brother Iain – the two definite night owls in our family.
Mum loved telling the story of me falling asleep over my dinner from when I sat in a high chair up until I went to school. Often I was carried into bed from the dinner table.
The change from a lark to an owl arrived with motherhood. My first baby Anne, turned night into day and destroyed whatever energy was needed to face the morning. The tiredness of caring for a newborn babe ranges from fatigue to exhaustion. Sleepless nights breastfeeding on demand, soothing a colicky baby, changing nappies, walking the floor crooning nursery rhymes or any other song that came to mind. (The People’s Flag & Internationale my favourites – no wonder both girls fight for social justice!)
New to parenting I employed all sorts of distracting tricks to calm fractious cries when the girls were ill or just out of sorts. From being a sound sleeper, I became a light sleeper, awake at the least disturbance from cot or bed.
Each morning, I fought to stay awake, sometimes falling asleep with a slice of toast in my mouth from the breakfast tray my loving, but well-rested husband prepared before heading off to work. John’s years in the Royal Navy meant he could sleep through WW3.
My body seemed to relax into a deep sleep two minutes before the 6.00am alarm for John to get up for work. Jolted awake, I faced the morning, not with a joyous song but fear. Would tiredness make me an incompetent mother?
Some say biorhythms determine our health, fitness, and response to nature, and crises occur when these rhythms are off their beat. Motherhood was the first serious change in the tempo of my life but it was not the last. The long period of caring for John when he was ill with COAD, asbestosis and later lung cancer meant I spent many nights lying listening to his struggling breaths. Uninterrupted sleep became a precious commodity.
Older, but not necessarily wiser, my sleep patterns so disturbed I am now officially (a) cuckoo!
Are you an owl? Describe your perfect night. Now throw a spanner in the works and write about when the morning or evening wasn’t so perfect!
… we should not only welcome day-dreams but train ourselves to be aware of them. In fact, the cores of most of my novels have come from daydreams. Daydreams are our primal storyteller at work, sending us scenes and topics that our imagination or subconscious wants us to investigate. Each day, we should devote time (I usually do this before sleeping) to reviewing our day-dreams and determining which of them insists on being turned into a story. Don’t push away those daydreams that make you uncomfortable: The more shocking the day-dream, the more truthful about us it is. Embrace that truth.”
Do you daydream? Do you dream in your sleep? Write a story based on your dreaming experiences – maybe you have a recurring dream?
“I write in the first person because I have always wanted to make my life more interesting than it was.”