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Dealing with writer’s fatigue

March 19, 2014

Recently, tiredness has been a big problem in my writing. Uni has been giving me a hard time and so my writing all gets done in the evening, if at all. More than once, I’ve found myself simply unable to write: the words won’t come, I can’t get into my characters’ heads, and so on.

It is all, needless to say, very frustrating. Thus, I’ve started thinking hard on how to deal with it.

Below, I list the various ways in which I’ve gotten out of such ruts before; these therefore, are how I intend to get out the present one. This list is by no means exhaustive and is not qualified by anything besides my own limited experience; even so, I hope people will find it useful.

So, let’s begin…

1. Strong coffee

This is one I’m sure we’ve all done at some point or other. A tip I picked up recently is to have the drink black and not add any milk or sugar. This seems to work, though I can’t say I understand why. It might all just be in my head, but hey.

…oh, and DON’T try this if you prefer to write late at night. That’s just asking for trouble. This, by the way, brings me to…

2. Start sooner

If you usually write late in the day, then the solution could well be to simply start earlier. Examine your schedule with a critical eye and work out if you really need to start as late as you do. Rearrange your schedule as needed, and away you go.

…of course, for many people this won’t be an opinion. If you’re one of them, then try…

3. Splash some cold water on your face.

…nothing to add, here! Next.

3. Fresh air

Often, a stroll is just what is needed. Leave your writing for an hour or so, walk about in the sunshine (or the wind and rain!) and then return to your writing afterwards, refreshed and ready to go.

If this doesn’t work, however, there’s always:

4. Exercise

Sometimes, a simple walk isn’t enough to clear your head; in this case, a proper workout may be the answer. I usually do squats, press-ups and sit-ups, in that order. I don’t do enough to tire myself out, but I do do enough to get my blood pumping.

Incidentally, this is what I did before starting this evening’s session. Had I not done so, I doubt this post would have materialised.

And finally…

5. Know when to quit.

Sometimes, a scene just doesn’t want to get written. In this situation, the very worst thing you can do is to try to keep going. Try working on a different scene. Failing that, stop altogether. Go away from your writing, do something else and do not even think about going back for the rest of the day. You never know; a break might be just the thing you needed.

Do you do any of these? Find them helpful? Know any other tips that you’d like to share? Share it all down below 🙂

From → Writing

  1. Taking long walks used to be my go-to method for getting in a creative mood. Then winter arrived. Siiiiigh. I’m eagerly looking forward to the spring when I can once again venture out in the inspirational outdoors without freezing like a Popsicle.

    • Another thing I sometimes do is walk in town and write there; that way, I get both the benefit of the walk and the benefit of some fresh surroundings. Come to think of it, I probably should have mentioned that in the original post…ah well…

      Thanks for taking the time comment :). I hope things warm up soon for you, also. Have you got any other tricks to fall back on in the meantime?

      • I don’t really have any other tricks! Canadian winters are so cold, I mostly just huddle inside and wait for spring. Hence why I get most of my writing done in the spring/summer, and most of my TV watching done in the fall/winter 🙂

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling with writing lately. 😦 Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself. As precious as writing is to us writers, sometimes we need to put our muses to rest so we can sleep, eat, etc. So, be good to yourself! 🙂

    I think every writer has different ways of dealing with fatigue or getting themselves out of a rut with their WIP. If my mind is telling me it’s fatigued, I listen to it and take a break – or stop for the day. It’s important to pay attention to signs where your head or body is simply saying, “No. I’m done for today.” A lesson I’ve learned the hard way, more than once.

    As for getting out of a rut… Well, if I’m having trouble with a particular scene, I just switch to a different scene in the WIP. Or I work on my backstory appendices or another writing project altogether.

    • Very true. I think I put a bit too much emphasis on the writing last term, so I”m being a bit more careful this time around. I’m on holiday until the end of the week, so I ought to get a fair amount of writing done over the next few days.

      And that’s a lesson I’ve been trying to teach myself both for writing AND for my day job. I don’t actually have specified working hours, so it’s all too easy to end up working later if I’m stuck on a problem. I think I’m getting there…slowly.

      Thanks for commenting! How goes things on your end, as of late?

  3. I’ve tried all of these at one time or another except for the first, since I’m not a fan of coffee. My favorite thing to do when I’m stuck is to ride my bike, when the weather permits.

    • Exercise and walks tend to be my personal two favs. At weekends I often walk into a coffee shop/pub and work from there; I tend to get a lot more done than I do at home, for whatever reason.

      Bike-riding sounds like a very fun way to get over a block :). Haven’t ridden in years, myself.

      • Yeah, I like to ride to the park and try to write there. The only problem with that is I have to write in a notebook, and sometimes that can be a little annoying.

        It is, actually. I love my bike. 🙂

  4. Whenever I get stuck I take the dogs outside. They get to run and I don’t have to see the neighbors look at me like I’m crazy, when I gripe to the dogs, thanks to our privacy fence. Even if I don’t walk around, it opens my mind to talk to someone who won’t argue back. 🙂


    • Sounds like an excellent response to getting stuck, to me. I used to talk to the cat from time-to-time, come to think of it. Good times…

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