How Writers Can Overcome Fatigue
Writing seems like it’s hard all of the time, but logically we know that’s bull crap. Any author who has been working a decent amount of his life remembers, faintly, some moments in which it wasn’t so difficult… nay, actually fun!
Did we dream that? It’s that just the foggy, grass-is-always-greener hindsight we’ve learned not to be deceived by?
While a writer can rid himself of writer’s block simply by barreling through it (often the fastest and most effective method), there are other things he can do in order to make his career just a little bit easier.
I hate fatigue. I’ve been depressed and I’ve been heartbroken, and yet I find fatigue to be the most detrimental mood for my productivity, partially because, for me, depression and heartbreak stay heavy for a period of time before eventually dying off. Fatigue can hit you anytime, anywhere, and I do not cotton to it.
1. Have a regular sleep routine.
Back in college, this was difficult. During the weekdays I would go to bed at nine and wake up at seven (my more preferred sleeping schedule), but during the weekends my social activities required me to stay up in the early hours of the morning. You know, playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Which was fun. I personally loved getting together every week to play the same characters for hours, but by two a.m., I was exhausted and pissy, partially because it interfered with having a routine making me tired throughout the week.
I’ve found that no matter what time you go to bed and wake up, as long as you do it approximately the same time every day, you are more likely to wake up feeling refreshed. This includes not sleeping in on the weekends, or staying out later than you would. Not always possible, but it helps.
2. Write first thing in the morning.
So you have that groggy period early on, but after that has passed, the morning is when you will be most awake. I’ve found that whenever I planned on writing after work (which I would be excited about during the day), I’d get home and just want to slump in my chair. If you write before you go off to work or start your day, you’re less likely to feel the sleep weighing in on you.
3. Keep nuts and a glass of water available to you during the day.
There are many jobs where this is difficult, but if you can hack it, having them be accessible will encourage you to eat and drink, which will, in turn, give you longer lasting energy. I’ve started keeping a bowl and a glass next to my computer, and the hydration makes me feel more energetic throughout. If you do this while at your job, when you do come home to write, you’re more likely to not have that “off work drag” that we all know and love.
4. Drink coffee or energy drinks while leaving work.
Remember this isn’t a health article, it’s about not feeling tired when you go to write. If you find yourself exhausted often, keep some energy drinks in your car. (If you live in a winter climate, of course, they may explode, so keep that in mind.) Don’t drink them every day, save them for when you really feel like you need them, because you do grow immune. They will hit you hard and leave you fast, so you get home, write, and then allow yourself to crash. Have some candy bars around (unless you’re on a diet, obviously) and munch down on your way home.
5. Exercise in the morning.
Exercise can be really fun, but only when you’re ready. I don’t have much of an explanation to that other than I am not an athletic person, and there were points in my life where I would never have fun, no matter the exercise.
But over the last year—in attempts to override a heartbreak—I very much got into it, and recently I’ve started doing a thirty minute dance routine every morning. Keeping in mind that I am currently unemployed, so we’ll see how long that lasts when I get to New York and have a real job, it does make for a great way to start the day. At first it’s a little boring, then you start to get it and it’s just a little more challenging, and then you do get it and you can zone out, making it almost like a meditation.
And it’s possible to find time to do little things throughout the day. I would exercise while straightening the shelves in the fabric store I worked out. It pissed my coworker off, but she was about 80 and everything pissed her off.
If you have a dog, take him for a run instead of a walk. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, do some cursory stretches. A little bit of exercise in the morning charges you up and gives you a nice buzz for most of the day.
6. Eat a full meal a few hours before you go to bed.
Now, again, this is a personal need because I am not a big eater. I’m picky, I’m often nauseated, and I will sometimes just forget to have a meal. A part of my poor sleeping habits fall in line with the fact that I’m hungry throughout the night which leaves me for a restless sleep. If I eat a few hours before I go to bed, I’m more likely to have a restful night.
7. Eat breakfast.
They say it’s the most important meal of the day for a reason. It’s not uncommon for me to go without breakfast when I’m working because too soon after I wake up will make me sick to my stomach, and also, I like to sleep in until about fifteen minutes before I have to go in.
On days that I eat a high-protein meal, I feel better throughout the day. I go for eggs, a protein shake, and some sort of wheat. Meat, nuts, grains, eggs, beans and rice, tofu, and whey products are the highest energy food groups.
8. Wash up.
Sometimes, in the middle of the day, you’re not fatigued so much as grungy. Often by going and washing my face and hands, changing my socks and underwear and any sort of article that I feel gross in, will rejuvenate me.
9. Wear something pretty but comfortable.
In the same vein, I find that if I change out of, say my pajamas, and into something that I feel looks good, but doesn’t jab, pin, or crawl up on me in some way will help me focus on my writing. This isn’t true for everyone, of course, but you might find that getting out of those sweatpants and into your new jeans suddenly changes your outlook. Feeling good about yourself naturally gives you more energy.
10. Warm up with something easy.
Now I’m not talking about exercise. When writing, you might find that something is easier to write than something else. This differs for everyone, but you probably have some form of writing that comes easier than others. For me, blogs come out like a breeze. Fiction writing is a little more difficult.
Try blogging, tweeting, writing poetry, a flash fiction short story, or anything that doesn’t matter as much as your work in progress, and you may find that continuing on into the real thing is a whole lot easier.