C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

How to sleep more and get more reading done

(Or don’t)

I’ve written plenty here about how to get more writing done (See the previous post: Do You Believe in Writer’s Block?). But what if you could read more books and sleep better, too? No longer an empty wish, this feat is achievable for many people who aren’t currently managing it.

Caveat #1: If you’ve got young kids, don’t come at me. I’ve been there, I get it, and sorry, this post probably isn’t for you. As the parent of a young child, you will read more, but it’ll be a lot of Cat in the Hat and Goodnight Moon. Unless…see Caveat #2 below.

The first mindset shift is that you must prioritize you.


I have a sleep disorder. After consulting my sleep specialist, my doctor didn’t have much for me except sleep hygiene protocols. If you’ve ever had insomnia, you probably know them already. Make your bedroom dark and cool and free of distractions, limit caffeine, blah, blah, blah. Every insomniac knows this stuff. Losing sleep was killing my productivity so I had to finally get serious about acting on those tactics. One thing I didn’t anticipate was being liberated to read more books more often.

Second mindset shift: Nobody gets more time. You don’t make more time. You have to take it.

There are a thousand things to do each day and we’re all out here treating ourselves like overscheduled and underpowered robots. One of my most cherished chapters from Do the Thing is the to-don’t list. To-do lists are plentiful, unrealistic, and way too long. I’ve got things engineered so I do one adult chore a day. My wife does the same. Your Dad (like mine) might call you a lazy shit, but what does he know? He’s miserable and exhausted. The positive effects are cumulative so ignore the naysayers. What needs to get done, will get done. What wants to get done may have to wait. Minimalism is healthy. You’ll learn to deal with gearing down to what’s realistic. Be real, you weren’t getting it all done, anyway. My way, you don’t drive yourself mad. For your mental health, please don’t try to do everything that needs to be done all in one day.

Wherever possible, don’t multi-task, either. In the 1970s, some moron proclaimed that a human being can do seven things at once. Western culture has suffered for that idiot ever since. Other countries and cultures have siestas and sex in the afternoon. We got the gig economy and the all-the-hours-you’re-awake work week. Multi-tasking is bullshit. Split your attention and you end up doing everything poorly.

Mindfulness is peacefulness. To do anything well, do one thing at a time.

To sleep, perchance to dream, wind down with a book.

We’ve all fallen into the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram rabbit holes, but in the search for more sleep, I stumbled on the way out of social media’s electro-warren. To get a good night’s sleep, I had to stop looking at screens after 8 pm (aiming for an 11 pm bedtime).

Switching out of work mode and into relaxation mode, I can’t watch TV or cruise social media obsessively until bedtime. After I’ve washed the dishes, I’ve got two or three hours of empty time. I don’t want to be bored, but I can’t get overstimulated, either. It can’t be a glowing screen, so I choose paperbacks.

Yes, I could wear sunglasses and there are apps to alter screen glow, but at night, my mind races. I have to exercise the discipline to consciously slow down and a good paperback serves that purpose. A chapter or three is a logical stopping point. If you can scroll forever, chances are you will. The internet has no logical stopping point, so it’s never done.

I tested my hypothesis this morning. I joined my wife in bed as she woke up and we scrolled through an Instagram thread of cute babies doing sweet baby things with no thought to the time. That’s a quick way to burn 45 minutes or so. Babies and dogs, man. I could scroll videos of babies and dogs forever.

I used to wake up at 3 a.m. and stay awake until dawn, tossing, turning, plotting books, and plotting against my many, many enemies. Since changing things up, four of five nights, I’m getting seven or eight hours of sleep. I’m reading more and sleeping more. I feel less like something on the bottom of someone’s shoe, too.

It only took a global killer pandemic for me to reevaluate how I work and relax. Things are getting better. I hope this helps you, too.

Caveat #2: To distraught parents, if you’re still in baby days, you will find reading for pleasure is a challenge. However, depending on the age of your kid, you can still get away with reading anything you want as long as you read to them aloud and they don’t understand you. Go ahead. Read that gory horror story in a soft, soothing voice. It’s possible you might scar them for life, sure, but that’s how short people with skulls full of mush grow up to be interesting adults, right?

~ Looking for something to read tonight? Check out the links to all my grand and fabu offerings of science fiction and crime thrillers on my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: getting it done, reading, , , , , , , , ,

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Ever feel like a second-class citizen? Of course you do. Read this.

I last published on Christmas day, 2019. I’m very proud of Citizen Second Class and entered the year eager to dive into producing more novels and audiobooks. Then COVID-19 hit and, expecting to die horribly at any moment, the fire in my belly was extinguished. My OCD tendencies turned all their energies to wiping down doorknobs, hiding in my blanket fort, battling insomnia, and nagging my son about safety protocols. (To be fair, though he’s lost a year of school, the kid’s a real sport and I’m glad to have him on our team.)

As 2020 ground slowly on (what was May, 83 years ago?) my creativity and productivity faded. I’m still not the killer crusher I was on the word count front. I am improving for sure, but I still feel like I’m crawling out of a deep hole. Publishing five times a year without sacrificing quality or my senses was normal for me. I expect to publish two new books by Christmas: a prequel to This Plague of Days set in Ireland and a novel in the Citizen Second Class universe (which looks remarkably like plague-ridden Florida and Texas at the moment.)

I have a lot of books, so instead of writing, much of this year has been devoted to shorter bursts of fun stuff and to-do list chores: posting to social media, marketing and Amazon ads. The administrative stuff I used to do between writing sprints became the main thing. I’ve turned that model upside down and I’m back to prioritizing writing again. I promise myself to do one adult task a day. The rest of the time is for diet, exercise, and getting my writing career back to firing on all cylinders.

What are my weapons in this battle?

  1. Distance and distancing. Sorry, Americans, but being Canadian is soothing me at the moment. It’s generally safer up here in America’s hat. However, my wife works in the school system and will be returning to work this fall. Our relatively safe situation could turn to shit quite easily. We haven’t figured out how to handle her return to work yet. Dousing her in hand sanitizer and setting her on fire at the end of each day has been discussed, but I’m told that proposition is “shelved.” I’m not sure what that means, but now I’m afraid to ask.
  2. I am Captain Comorbidity. If I get it, I’m in grave danger. To give myself a chance lest I wind up on a ventilator, I went vegan almost two months ago. I’m losing weight and trying to eliminate a couple of the pre-existing conditions that could mess me up permanently. It’s working pretty well so far. I feel better and lighter. I even started growing my own food in our quarantine garden. So far, that’s yielded some lettuce and a cucumber crop of one cucumber. (Follow my daily accountability posts on food, exercise and writing on Instagram at robertchazzchute.)
  3. Insomnia absolutely robs my productivity. I feel run over the next day and can’t work. It’s been bad for years. Since COVID, it got worse. I have a sleep specialist to help with my sleep disorders and I spoke to him this week. The news was a bit disappointing. All he really had for me was sleep hygiene (protocols I know intimately already). However, with no other way out, I doubled down. Last night, I got three hours sleep. Two nights in a row before that, however, I got seven fairly solid hours. After the good nights, I have creative days and crush my word count goals.

    Healing my sleep is a process. I’m sticking with it because the alternative is miserable. Besides, with me sleeping in the cool basement under an open window and She Who Must Be Obeyed still in our bedroom, her sleep has improved.
  4. I stay home, of course. With the sunny days, I’ve taken to working outside. The blanket fort is nice for cold weather. Getting fresh air and sunlight are parts of my sleep hygiene protocol. Writing on the back patio is quite pleasant. I’m getting more words down. Good words. Words to publish, words to last.

    If you can change where and when you work, you might change the negative associations you may have with the attempt to settle down behind the keyboard. Try reframing and you might like the picture better.
  5. Very few people feel like running hard every day (and those few are being chased). I mean, THE COUCH IS RIGHT THERE! Lazy is easy. Distractions are easy. Doing shit is hard.

    Here’s how to make it easier:

    The hardest part is pulling on your sneakers and getting out the door. If you don’t feel like running five or ten miles today, tell yourself you’re going light, an easy two miles, all downhill and slow, with a tall cold glass of Guinness at the end as a reward. Once you’re out the door, resting inertia is overcome. You’ll probably go farther.

    So it is with writing. Don’t tell yourself you’re writing a book today. Your just going to put down maybe 500 words and see how it goes. The hardest part is starting. After that, momentum will probably carry you beyond those first, modest goals. And if not, not. A little done consistently is better than nothing done ever. It’s okay to take a day off. Writing is fun, remember? If you try and you’re really not feeling it, it’s okay to take a little time to recharge. You’re the boss.
  6. As detailed last week, I’m using accountability to keep me going: progress meters (see mine and the link to get yours from my author site AllThatChazz.com.) I’m also enjoying word sprints each Sunday, inspired by the Mando Method Podcast.

    Harness the power of a pre-existing writing community post your word count success to Twitter with the hashtag MandoMethod. Let #MandoMethod know and maybe author extraordinaire Armand Rosamilia himself will give you an attaboy!

That covers accountability. What else you got, Rob?

A friend of mine, author Gordon Bonnet, wrote a very down-to-earth post about his travails with writer’s block…or is it really writer’s block? Could changing fonts really help? Gordon’s got the scientific goods on his excellent blog. Have some tea and load up on the sympathy as you read his post on Skeptophilia. The post is titled Font of Creativity

Anything else?


When all else fails, grit your teeth, bear down, and deliver that baby.

~ I write apocalyptic epics and killer crime thrillers. Find all my books and more blog posts at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: writing, writing advice, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Updates for Your Writing Life


I’ve been very busy but less productive. The second half of 2020 needs the transmission ripped out and a full overhaul, top to bottom, plus a fresh paint job. New strategies are in the works. In the meantime, please do check out these updates from my author site, AllThatChazz.com.

These links are like oxygen. You can’t do without them for long:

COVID-19 is a Zombie Pandemic

If zombie tropes were a shoe, they’d fit the mess we’re in. Watch me lay out the case for how fiction has become reality.

And not for nothin’, if you write, you will be underestimated. I reply to those who have offended me. Neener-neener-poo-poo! Feel my righteous wrath!

Or as Stephen King put it, “If you write…someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”

You Are Not a Cog

Are you working at 100% and killing it or killing yourself? Pleasant news: The rise and grind mindset never really made sense.

Wait for the Turn This Takes

Everything is on fire. Is it over? Will this Independence Day be America’s last? Should we care? This settles it.

Every Evil Thing

Seen on the internet: Did you have a happy childhood or are you funny? (Written to the sound of a great gnashing of teeth.)

The Writing Life: Vicissitudes

Some days you feel like you’re on The Truman Show, desperately trying to escape and, oops! The bridge is out and the nuclear power plant has sprung a leak and you’re thwarted at every turn.

Racing down the spiral

As darkness falls, insomnia slips into bed beside me and poke me in the brain. Follow the horrible, hilarious stream of consciousness. Follow Jenny all the way down the block.

The grim future scenario I didn’t want to write

Apocalyptic predictions to ruin your day, for free!

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes killer crime thrillers and apocalyptic epics. You should really read all his books. It’s reading, but it doesn’t feel like homework. Remember that? Remember reading things for pleasure? Wasn’t that great?

Catch the reading fever at AllThatChazz.com.

Filed under: All That Chazz, Rant, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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