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Writing in the Dark

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in a panic with sweat dripping down your brow? Your heart pumping, afraid if you don’t get up and write down the thoughts in your head you might be giving up your chance at the next NY Times Bestseller?

Hello, welcome to my life.

I’m a writer.

I sleep with a notepad and pen on the marble-topped nightstand next to my bed. The side lamp, always ready to turn on when I have a “bright idea” mid-sleep. I’m not sure if it’s because the veil between the worlds is thinner at night causing my mind to swell with fantasy.

Or maybe it’s because I once read an article about Twilight author Stephenie Meyer discovering her main characters, Edward and Bella, in a dream. Whatever the reason– I seem to find inspiration in the dark.

Not all characters born from my midnight madness are themselves dark. Often I pen protagonists with a sunny disposition and heart of gold. I’m also a big fan of unlikely heroes and villains who change their tune.

When it comes to genre, I try to let my characters guide me, allowing their voice to be stronger than mine. Sometimes I write contemporary and other times it's fantasy. I dabble in science fiction, historical and alternate universes. I’m also a huge nut for all things southern, gothic and gritty.

Bonus points when I can throw a “y’all” into my narrative.

As a reader I gravitate towards YA fiction from all genres– I especially love anything by Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and Cassandra Clare. In Adult lit, I’m particular to historical fiction writers like Diana Gabaldon and Sara Donati and their sweeping tales of female heroism and adventure.

For me, writing is about finding a magical balance between character-driven and plot-driven storytelling. I accomplish this by challenging myself to write pieces of varying lengths. Some of my characters and plots need more time to develop and research, turning into epic full-length books. While others are quirky and fresh and only take a few hundred words to deliver their message.

I think every writer has to come up with a writing method and style that works best for them. Being comfortable telling a story takes time and practice. Not to mention patience! I have over thirty stories “in-progress” on my Google Drive as I wait for the stories to finish unfolding in my mind. Who knows, maybe tonight will be the night.

So, the next time you wake up in the dark, heart-pounding, clinging to the memory of a dream– get up and write it down. Listen to the voices in your head. I promise, they have a story to tell.


About the Author: S.E. Reed lives in South Florida with her husband and three children. She runs a medical office by day and is a writer by night. She’s a member of the Florida Writers Association and is a delegate for YA Writers Hub. Her work has been featured in Parhelion Lit, The Writer’s Workout, 21SGT, and Tempered Runes Press. You can follow her on Twitter @writingwithreed or check out her website


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