By Milli Thornton
I MET A writer on Twitter the other day who writes for a living. He expressed unhappiness with his own writing, so I asked what the block was. He said, “It’s exhausting to write fiction after a long day of cranking copy.”
Sometimes the only thing to do is rest. Or read. Or sleep. Sometimes we’ve worn ourselves ragged and we need to rejuvenate. And that’s when it would be crazy to try to push through the tiredness. We need to take care of our health, so we can live to write another day.
But sometimes I think tiredness can be a form of writer’s block. We feel like we’ve given our best to all the XYZs (our job, our family, our paid writing, our . . .) and now there’s nothing left to feed our own creativity. The brain is too numb to write. The old “time for some TV, that’s all I’m good for right now” mentality.
I know I’ve done it. And felt relieved to get away from the pressure of trying to feel creative when I’m tired.
But I’ve also had enough breakthroughs that I can start to see what a line I’m spinning when I automatically say I’m too tired—without at least trying it first.
Here are a couple of my stories.
Last week, in a post called How do you get yourself out of a funk so you can write?, I talked about being in an emotional bummer and how I got out of it so I could have the writing day I wanted to have. When I looked back over my session notes for that day, I was amazed to discover that I didn’t start writing until four o’clock.
Four o’clock doesn’t sound all that late . . . except I had planned to write all day. With all the dithering around, it took me until late afternoon to get out of the funk I was in so I could write. The stress of the emotions, plus the effort of having to find ways to pull myself out of it, had left me tired. I was tempted to just write the whole day off and not bother. But I forced myself to get started—and ended up adding 14 pages to my screenplay.
Was I happy with that? You bet!
Another time. It was Friday evening, it had been a long day full of interruptions, and I’d given my best to all my XYZs. Brian was watching TV with a beer in his hand, and boy did that sound good. I longed to be out there in the living room vegging with him. Hadn’t I earned it? But there was an article I’d been meaning to write all week. It was now or never.
Slogging through a fog of tiredness, I got started. Ironically, the article (written for students of the Fear of Writing Online Course) was entitled “The Biggest Myth About Being a Writer” and the opening lines went like this:
The biggest myth about being a writer comes with two choices for wording:
“I’ll write when I get time.”
“I’ll write when I feel creative.”
Suddenly, I was off and running and the article practically wrote itself.
The biggest secret that I noticed? I felt inspired after I did the writing, not before. And I felt energized. I wasn’t tired any more. I felt creative. I felt happy.
Have you had any creative breakthroughs when you were tired that you’re so glad you didn’t miss? Leave a comment and share your story!———
Milli Thornton is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and Milliver’s Travels and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching.