For most writers, the idea is a nightmare: Readers drifting off to their prose, lulled by monotonous passages. But for Phoebe Smith, this phenomenon has turned into an unlikely dream job.
The travel writer and journalist has published 15 stories with sleep app Calm after being personally recruited by the company’s co-founder.
“I thought, ‘Should I be really offended that he thinks my writing has the effect of boring people to sleep?’ ” Smith told The Guardian.
Offensive or not, it’s true that these days Smith’s writing is effectively a substitute for counting sheep. One of her stories, “Blue Gold,” has more than 4 million views on YouTube and has been listened to approximately 15 million times, according to The Guardian. Words such as “slopes,” “lavender,” “meandering” and “sublime” fill the oration, performed softly and distinctly by actor Stephen Fry.
“I kind of flip over what we would normally do with writing. We’re normally trying to grab people with a dramatic introduction, and work through a narrative arc with every paragraph we write,” Smith said. “I’m flipping that on its head.”
Her style obviously works. Smith said people tell her they really enjoy her stories but can never make it to the end. She’s curing insomnia and sleep problems with her tired travel stories, and she’s even been appointed “world’s first sleep storyteller-in-residence” at Calm.
Smith’s writing may be intentionally boring, but her life isn’t. This winter, she’s going on a “sleepy story tour” across the United Kingdom and Ireland. And yes, of course she wants her audience to take a nap during her appearance.
“Normally I would be mortified if anyone went to sleep,” Smith said. “This time, I wonder how many people I can get to nod off.”