Fatigue and the Writer (or, How Writer’s Block Actually Works For Me)

Writer's Block

So, this will be a shorter blog post.  School has started for me and I’ve been “dog tired” over these past two weeks.  One thing that I’ve learned is that fatigue affects my writing.

Normally, when I’m rested, any time when I concentrate, I see “movies in my head.”  My stories play out in the back of my head as if there is a movie projector spooling a film (old school) or a blu ray player playing movie discs (new school) inside my mind.  My challenge as a writer is to try to replicate what I’m seeing behind my eyes with words on the page.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: This why I’m so abstracted when socializing or why I seem so “scatterbrained” or “absent-minded.”  In most social situations, I’m disengaged and at least part of my brain is working on whatever story I have playing inside my head at the moment.)

When I’m tired, however, all of that goes away.  Imagine that someone has taken off the film roll from the projector or taken the disc out of the blu ray player.  Yet, the projector/BR player is still projecting a blank screen.  Worse, there’s an actual physical “pressure” (not unlike a low-grade headache/fever that takes the place of my “inner movie,”) when I’m fatigued.

For me, fatigue = Writer’s Block.  Stress & worry = Writer’s Block.  Conventional wisdom says that you should put your behind in your chair every day and write.  But, for me, that won’t work.  All I end up doing is sitting in front of the computer, iPad, writing pad, and sitting and sitting, not getting but maybe a word or two down.  Then I end up getting frustrated because the movie’s not playing and words aren’t flowing and from there, it becomes a vicious cycle.  I get even more stressed because I feel time flowing away but I’m not being productive.

That’s why it is so important to “know thyself.”  Conventional wisdom, especially when applied to creative endeavors, MUST be tempered with an understanding of your own unique creative processes and MUST be altered as necessary.  I’m much more productive when rested and working on/completing sections rather than trying to force myself to work daily when I’m fatigued and then getting frustrated when I can’t put words on the page.