Posted tagged ‘writer’s fatigue’

Writer’s Fatigue – Watch Out For The Burn.

September 8, 2010

Washcloth washcloth burning bright!

I’ve written a lot about blocking writer’s block; usually I’ve talked about blocks caused by insecurity or fear of failure, indecision, just plain stuckness.   I’ve advocated various exercises to limber up pen-holding or keyboard-typing fingers.

What about writer’s block caused simply by fatigue?

Sinking eyelids, molasses mind, slurring fingers.

I inadvertently set a washcloth on fire a few minutes ago.  In two places.  That kind of fatigue.

It’s not all that easy to set a washcloth on fire.  It wasn’t even on fire until I took the symmetrically charred fabric out into the night air and lay it down on some stiff, humid Florida grass–really called  Bermuda grass–grass that my crabbed mind thought would dampen all embers.

But something about that combination of night air/grass/stretching and glowing washcloth out set off actual flames.

That kind of fatigue.

That kind of block.

Avoid, during such moments, writing while operating heavy machinery.

Blocking Writer’s Block – The Pen Is Mightier than the Word*

March 4, 2010

The Pen Is Mightier than the Wor(d)

The downside of being manic is, well, the down side.  There can be depression, of course, but what  I am writing about tonight is simple fatigue:  what’s left when the exhilaration, silliness, determination wears down.

For those who write, this fatigue can function (or cause not functioning, as the case may be) like a kind of writer’s block.  The feeling is not so much paralysis as apathy, apathy colored by exhaustion.  When this fatigue descends, you may feel as if the whole of your forehead (frontal cortex) is taken over by a block of blankness.  If the blankness takes the trouble to enunciate anything at all, what it usually tells you is that (a) you have nothing to say, and (b) even if you did, you’re too tired to say it.

Here are a few tools that can help when this blankness descends:

1.  Habit/Discipline. Forging a daily habit of writing, and disciplining yourself (with soulless rigidity) into maintaining that habit helps to carve a chink of opening in writer’s fatigue.   The writing habit will probably need to be started and cultivated during the non-blank times.  This sounds easy, but unfortunately, when writing is going well, you may not feel a need to set up any habitual framework for it.    Still, it’s useful to try, even when working well, to set some requirements for yourself, such as amount of time you want to devote, an amount you want to produce, a time of day, a place or notebook that you habitually use.   These requirements (even just one of them) can operate as a groove you can slip into when the blankness descends,, a practice you can use discipline (rather than inspiration) to maintain.  Use this discipline to get yourself to pick up your notebook or turn on your computer and set yourself down to it.

2.  Trust/ Let Go. After mustering the discipline to set yourself down,  let go of that same disciplined, planning, decision-making part of your brain.   Pour what’s left of yourself into your fingers, your pen, your keyboard.  Try not to think about what you are going to write, just write.   Move ink (real or virtual) across the page.

The thing to remember is that the pen is mightier than the word.   The fingers (unless you have been doing carpentry or weaving or playing Scott Joplin or Chopin on the piano) are generally less tired than the mind.  And the unconscious is usually quite happy to take over for if you allow it.

How do you access the unconscious?   How do you allow it to move into your hands?  For some this is easier than others.  Probably the most important step is to stop being your own audience.  The unconscious is shy.  It doesn’t like to interrupted; it doesn’t like to be judged.    Of course, once you start writing, your conscious brain (even your fatigued, blocked, conscious brain) will sit up and take notice;  still try to keep this conscious brain to the sidelines.  Make it a silent, unobtrusive witness, a deaf-mute who, sadly, never learned sign language.

These techniques may not give rise to deathless prose (though you may surprise yourself).  But they will help you work through the fog of fatigue (both true mental tiredness and a tiredness of the spirit).   And usually, once the unconscious mind moves into the open,  the fatigued, blocked, conscious part of your brain will also pretty quickly wake up, become engaged.    (It doesn’t really like being a deaf-mute.)

This, frankly,  is when your problems may really begin.  Your unconscious mind may be a much better writer than the conscious mind; they may have different techniques, subject matters.    But at least these are problems with writing, and not with not-writing.

*I have to give credit for the phrase “the pen is mightier than the word” to my husband, Jason Martin.

PS- I have written many posts on blocking writer’s block.  Check them out by going to that category on the ManicDDaily Home Page.