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Fighting Writer Fatigue

It’s a pretty sweet life we’ve chosen, us writers. We spend our time taking the crazy from our brain-pans and throwing it on paper, and if we’re lucky we get paid to do it.

What other profession can claim that?

But it’s not always sugar plums and unicorns. Sometimes writing is freaking hard. Some days you can’t pull yourself out of bed to face that blank page again…some days you hate writing.

Hey, it’s alright. It happens to all of us. There’s a thin line between passion and abhorrence, and sometimes you end up on the wrong side of the line.

So what to do? How to make yourself start writing again? Or, more importantly, love writing again?

Here are a few things that work for me:

-Take your poor dog for a walk.

Look at that pooch over there. Yeah, the one sitting in the corner licking his, uh, well, just look at him. You know what? Your story can wait. Take that pitiful thing for a walk. Get some fresh air. Maybe throw a frisbee, or two.

There’s something rejuvenating about taking a walk when you’re putting off work. That crisp air, the tang of fresh-cut grass, the yell of your neighbor as your dog starts squatting in her yar—HEY! Knock that off! You can do that at the park.

Right. Ahem.

No matter how much you hate writing, I guarantee once you return from that walk your blank page is going to look a lot more inviting.

-Write some fan-fic

It’s easy to get caught up in your WIP, whatever that may be at the moment. You get wrapped up in your head, stressing over the little details, the characters, whether anyone will like it, all the damn changes you need to make. ACK!

It’s enough to strangle your creativity.

So borrow someone elses.

Now, I’m not a big proponent of fan-fic. I think it’s a waste of your time and talents, and possibly insulting to the original author. But this isn’t about the ethical dilemma that comes from playing in someone elses sandbox, this is about sparking your prose.

And when you’re exhausted it’s nice to stand on someone else’s shoulders.

So take a minute and write about one of your favorite characters. Harry Potter, say. He’s safe enough. I wonder what would happen to him as an adult? He didn’t do well at school, so nothing academic I suspect. He wanted to fight the Dark Arts and all that, but since Voldemort’s gone there’s no demand for Aurors. He would probably end up a drunk.

A drunk wizard, pestering anyone who’ll listen to buy him a drink so he can relive his glory days…

BOOM!

I feel inspired.

-Meet your deadline (whether you have one or not)

The difference between professional writers and those that go by that ridiculous prefix “aspiring” (there is no aspiring, you either write or you don’t), is one word: deadline.

Not even the Newton’s figgy goodness can tempt an editor

I was never much good with deadlines. I used to blow them all the time when I was in school, and then either B.S. or charm my way to an extension. But editors don’t give a Newton’s Fig whether you’ve come down with your third case of Mono. There’s no charming an editor and they live to eat excuses. They want their damn story.

And that’s a good thing, because whether you’re tired or not, it’s going to force you to write. And once you start writing it’s all down hill.

So what do you do if you don’t have a deadline? You make one up, of course. You tell yourself you’re going to finish that story/novel/article/fan-fic/tabletop/youtube video in three weeks and then…

(And here’s the important part.

Wait for it.

Still waiting?

Good.

I guess that’s enough drama.

Or is it??

It is.)

YOU TELL THE WORLD!

Not just your Uncle Bob and your faithful hound, Rex. You need to post that shiz on the book of faces, the tweety bird, the picture place, everywhere. You want everyone to know your deadline, because when you’re feeling blah and don’t feel like putting pen to paper you can remember that if you don’t finish in two weeks everyone will know.

Shame. There’s no finer motivator.

Except…

-Find yourself a cheerleader

There’s a reason writers drink. There’s a reason we’re anti-social ghouls who hide in our basements and hiss at sunlight. There’s a reason we don’t want you to read our story yet.

It’s because we are
constantly getting rejected.

Now, rejection can be a good thing, and criticism is vital to developing your story, and you need people you can trust who are willing to rip your story to shreds, and yada, yada, yada. You know what? It gets damn tiring listening to all the things that are wrong with your writing.

That’s when you need a cheerleader.

Thanks, Mom. But I’m not sure the outfit is necessary.

Someone who loves your work. Loves it. They devour every sentence, remember every character, and best of all? They want to know what comes next. They need you to write the next part.

Often this is your mother, or your aunt, father, sister, hobo you met on the street, whatever. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make any difference what their “qualifications” are, either. They’re a human being (this, unfortunately is required. Rex won’t work), they read, and they think you’re a great writer.

Everyone needs to get pumped up. We all need a Mick to our Rocky.

Just don’t ask them to dress like a cheerleader. That’s your mom, dude.

 

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About nicwidhalm (46 Articles)
Nic Widhalm is a writer based out of Northern, Colorado, specializing in urban fantasy, and supernatural horror. He is happily married, has two beautiful, feisty kids, and spends his free time singing and providing vocal percussion for the professional a cappella group, Curious Gage. Visit www.curiousgage.com for more information.

8 Comments on Fighting Writer Fatigue

  1. I find myself in a slump sometimes. Like you suggested, a good break clears your head like going exercising or for a walk. Just doing something else completely helps too. I am nominating you for a Inspiring Blog Award. If you choose to follow it, you can read about it on my post. http://lifewithchocolateandcoffee.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/inspiring-blog-award/

  2. Great post — informative, funny, and well-written! I definitely agree with your tip on setting personal deadlines and sticking to them. The most difficult thing about doing anything productive outside of a school/work setting is that there’s nobody to punish you if you don’t finish on time, so it’s necessary to…well…punish yourself. I always feel terrible when I miss my personal deadlines, and I’m a lifelong, chronic procrastinator. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yeah, I definitely agree with you on the procrastinating thing. Every writer I’ve met seems to fight that. “I know I should write that action scene today, but I have all day off tomorrow, so…”

      If I didn’t give myself a deadline I’d never get anything done.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Thanks for the pep talk!

  4. Thank you for writing this. I love it!

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