Saturday, March 18, 2017

Worry Dolls and Sleepy Inspirations

Or...How to Use Worry Dolls to Keep Those Late Night Ideas Until Morning.

This last Christmas my husband bought me a set of six Worry Dolls. He got them from a store here in Edmonton called Ascendant Books. (I LOVE that store.) It's a place where you can get your tarot cards or your palm read. You can buy crystals, sage, yoga tapes, incense, fairy houses and paraphernalia, and of course BOOKS. Books on anything and everything metaphysical. The store has a fantastic vibe, kinda magical.

That's where he bought the Worry Dolls. Use these little treasures at bedtime. You tell a worry doll what's keeping you up at night. Tell one doll about how you're stressed about bills. Tell another you're worried about your friend who's having surgery. Tell another that the job interview tomorrow has you nervous--anything that might keep you awake.

The idea is that THEY do the worrying FOR you. I find it helps. When the things that bother me sneak into my brain, I remind myself that the dolls are keeping my problems. They aren't mine for the night. It's physiological, and you have to let it work.

Here's how I use them for writing ideas:

Every writer has experienced that flood of inspiration that happens just as we're dropping off. You're half asleep, and a really cool thought hits you--something that might make a great story idea. How badly do you need sleep? Do you get up, turn the light on and write it down? Or do you drift off and hope it's still there in the morning?

Most writers choose the former, and they keep pen and paper on the nightstand for just such an occurrence. That means waking your spouse to turn the light on, or maybe you get out of bed and leave the room. You force your eyes to adjust, writing blearily and hoping the resulting plot bunny doesn't hop all over your brain for a few hours more. You hope you'll sleep.

This happened to me two weeks ago. I don't remember what triggered it, but a concept shouted at me. I also had to work early. I grabbed a worry doll from my nightstand without turning on the lamp. I whispered my idea to her. I even gave her keywords. Medieval England. Papal Indulgences. Her True Name:Volume unknown. Then I tucked her under my pillow, and went to sleep.

The next day, I readied myself for work. The day was uneventful. I came home, and changed into my pajamas, remembering I had worry dolls under my pillow. When I saw the third one, I remembered my thought, and ran to my journal to get it down. It stuck!

Guess what? I have a book idea. I think it might even be my next novel. I'm not saying it will work as a novel. And I'm not saying this method will work for everyone. I'm saying give it a shot.

t doesn't even have to be a doll. It can be anything, can't it? If you whisper your idea to your spare bookmark or a hair brush and find it under your pillow the next day, you'll probably find the trigger again anyway. Mostly because you'll wonder why you put it there, right? (Hey you remember that thing I told you about historical corruption and how a certain god-figure did the thing I want to write about?) Try it. See what happens. Best of luck!


  1. Hmm. Sounds interesting. Since you have to whisper anyway, maybe a dictation device would work too. Something where you press one button to record and again to stop.

    1. Another good idea. Where does one find those?

    2. My son gave me one for my birthday many years ago. If you type "dictation recorder" as your search criteria at, several models come up, including one that looks like a wristwatch. That would be great. No matter what your sleeping position, you'd be able to locate it, press the button, and record your idea--without opening your eyes.