Writing Through Exhaustion

We all have things in our lives that sap our energy. Children, work, commitments that can’t be avoided – everything that life brings us. Good and bad. It sometimes feel that these all combine to take our writing energy and shove it somewhere we won’t ever find it.

Previously, I would find myself seated in front of the computer, a blank page on the screen, thinking ‘I’m just too tired for this.’ More often than not, I’d get up, find something else to do, expecting to return later and actually write. Regrettably, that often didn’t happen.

How do we push through this barrier? It’s not easy. Every word can and will feel like a struggle. They will feel wrong. Misplaced. And the effect this will have on your willingness to continue to write for the day will be extreme.

So, what can be done to overcome this and get words on the page? Here’s what I do when the nightshift blues try to ruin my output for the day:

  1. Don’t stress about the quality. It’s gonna suck. Just get the words out. They can always be polished later when your mind is more on the job.
  2. I don’t edit. It’s just too hard when tired. Leave that to later. Just focus on getting whatever words on the page you can.
  3. Don’t expect to hit the word count you normally would. If you normally can crush 5,000 words a day, trim it back a little. Aim for half that.
  4. Eat well. And, by that, I don’t mean it a lot. Getting proper nutrition will make a massive difference. From personal experience, a change of diet from utter crap to a healthy, balance diet had an amazing effect on my clarity of thought. The brain haze that had been clouding my writing for so long was gone. Also, drink plenty of water.
  5. Go for a walk or go to the gym. Our bodies react in wonderful ways to exercise. You might be surprised how much getting away from the blank page and seeing the sunshine can help.

These are the basics of how I attempt to deal with exhaustion. They don’t always work. Sometimes, a day will just be a write-off where I know I won’t be able to do anything productive. It will happen. And again, it’s not too much of a problem, unless you have a looming deadline or similar. Accept it, don’t beat yourself up about it, and move on.

Just do your best. Somebody once said ‘Just hit those keys. Nothing will happen if you don’t. Something might if you.’ Words to live by.

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