Isn’t this the cutest picture ever? I laughed when I saw it, and then I thought, boy do I relate!
A writer’s life is often perceived as a glamorous one. We flit through the day, stopping every now and then to wave to a fan or two as we weave in and out of expensive boutique stores, lunch with our agent and possibly our film director if he’s in town, go home and take a two hour nap by the pool, waking only to sip on something frosty, tropical and terribly potent. And then, if we feel like it, we retreat indoors to the sanctuary of our creative space, and pound out a few pages of our next bestseller.
What? That’s not what you do?
Yeah. That’s not what I do either. Well, aside from the occasional tropical and terribly potent drink…oh, and the shopping, now and then.
The truth is, writing is HARD WORK. I think that’s why it hit me so hard when my lap top crashed to the floor and I realized my folly in not having an immediate back-up system. I watched weeks, weeks, of work go out the window. Oh sure, it’s up there in my brain somewhere, but sometimes trying to retrieve those brilliant thoughts resembles running around the kitchen with a fly swatter, desperate to kill that annoying, buzzing creature that won’t land on anything for less than a millisecond. Sometimes writing anything at all is just too difficult.
We get tired.
And then what? I worry when I can’t write. I see time ticking away, precious hours lost. Opportunities passing me by because I haven’t got a new book out there yet. I have this driving need to get that next manuscript under my belt because you just never know when the time is right.
You just never know.
Worrying makes me tired. Waiting makes me tired. Worrying about waiting makes me tired and slightly insane. After years of practice, you’d think I’d have mastered that game. Not. I’m beyond anxious about my second novel at the moment. I’ve been waiting for answers for months. And when the answers don’t come, those months start to feel like years. I’m literally knotted up inside over the situation. Not healthy. But I seem to be wired this way and I’m not sure how to change. I’m not sure I can change. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe it is perfectly fine to let the things that bother me bother me, so long as I know I’m not about to find a magical solution hidden under a rock in my garden. I think it’s okay to get frustrated. It’s okay to get tired.
It’s also okay to take a break.
When I can’t stand looking at my words a minute longer, I leave my office. Lounge on the couch and look at somebody else’s words. But be careful here. I’ve often fallen into the trap of reading while feeling frustrated with my current work in progress. And then I start to rail at myself because I’ll never be as good as writer X. I have to be in a good mood to read.
So if I don’t read, I walk. Do Pilates. Swim. Spend a few hours in the garden.
It’s important to refresh the mind, because you’re refreshing the soul too. I know God doesn’t want me overtired, stressed and snarky. And my family certainly doesn’t want me that way!
I can’t function when I can’t focus, and my writing will suffer. So I take forced time-outs.
And it helps. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but there are times it becomes all-consuming. And I don’t think that’s good.
When you’re not having fun anymore, stop.
What do you do when you’re too tired to write?