Top Three Ideas For When You Are Too Tired To Write

Back when I was an elementary school teacher and I was writing part time, as more of hobby than anything else, I would write an entire book during my “off-track” time. I worked at a year-round school, so I would teach for three months, then have one month off. It was great; I loved it! During the teaching months, I would edit the book I wrote during the “off-track” months.

I think it worked so well because I was under no pressure to produce anything. I wasn’t under deadline to write a book when the agent or editor wanted it. And, it didn’t even have to be any good. Sure, I wanted to get the book published, but I probably subconsciously knew that I had to write a few bad books to learn how write well.

But during those days, even after teaching all day and being exhausted, I looked forward to the time I got to spend alone in front of my computer creating stories. It was fun and relaxing, and I didn’t feel like I was working; it was what I did to unwind from work.

Fast forward to the days when I was writing for multiple publishers. and I was under contract to get my novels written or edited. I was no longer teaching; I was raising my children and writing. I also had to promote and market my books, so I had to set up speaking engagements and book signings. I had to maintain a website and create bookmarks and other “give-aways” for readers as part of my marketing strategies. I had to open a business account at the bank, have a P.O. Box, create stationary, and on and on. The business of being a working, selling author was a full-time job, and the business side of writing was not fun.

I found that often I was exhausted. I’d sit down to write, and it was work. I still enjoyed writing, but I had to force myself to write rather than looking forward to writing.

Each step deeper into the world of writing and publishing became more work — self-publishing doubled the workload again. And the more writing became my job, the more exhausted I was.

Today, I teach college classes and teach personal courses and write and run my publishing services business. I am beyond exhausted. And yet, always, sit my but in my office chair and write. It’s still an escape; it’s still relaxing, no matter how tired I am.

When authors state that one of the frustrations about writing is having to write when they are tired, they are not actually complaining about the writing part. They are lamenting having to do the many other things that make them too tired to write. It’s this way for me and other writers I know.

Sitting down to write allows writers to leave behind the struggles of life and enter a special zone that can at times feel like meditation.

I’d like to share my top three ideas of what to do when you are too tired to write. You still want to write, but you feel like you have nothing left inside to give, so what do you do.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
  1. Take a warm shower to physically get rid of the day’s troubles. Then sit down with a cup of tea or wine, depending on my mood, and spend at least 30 minutes with my story. Usually, once I begin, the exhaustion fades and I end up writing for two hours instead of the 30 minutes I’d promised I’d write. If you have a pool, go for a swim, if you have a jacuzzi, sit in there for 10 or 15 minutes. Something about the water helps to recharge your energy and helps you begin again. It’s almost like starting the day again.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

2. Once, I booked a session with my yoga instructor to increase creativity. She had me do this weird “climbing the ladder” activity. The ladder is invisible, you just pretend you are climbing the ladder for about ten minutes. I felt ridiculous, but what she said was that I needed to leave behind the left brain thinking of teaching and work and reconnect with my left brain. What this activity did was balance the two sides of the brain since I was physically using both sides of my body to pretend climb the ladder.

She said to do this after work before I sat down to write. So, yes, I felt stupid, but I did it, and I found that I WAS more creative. The exhaustion of the day faded, and I was more focused on my story and wrote more.

Why did this work? Because she was right? Possibly. Or maybe it was the physical activity and increased blood flow. I don’t know. But whereas the first idea calls for relaxing and recharging before writing, This second method calls for movement. At times, a little exercise can make people feel less tired.

Photo by Tony Hand on Unsplash

3. My third tip is to trick yourself into believing you’re not tired. Do you ever notice that the second you get home your realize how exhausted you are? At work, you go, go, go, and push through even if you feel tired. But the minute you walk through your front door, all the stress flows out of your body along with your energy.

So, what I do sometimes, is not come home. Or get home, change into jeans (or shorts) and t-shirt and head right back out to the nearest Starbucks or Panera Bread. I buy some water or coffee if it’s going to be a long night, and I sit down to write. Usually, because I’m out of the house, around the energy of other people, the tiredness goes away and I can get a couple of hours of writing done.

Then when I do get home, I can go straight to bed and crash.

These three ideas have helped get pages written when I didn’t believe I had an ounce of energy left. I change it up so that I’m not always doing the same thing.

And after the writing is done, I’m so glad I did it. I feel the happiness I used to feel when I first started writing, and I remember why I’m still doing this after so many years.



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Julia Amante

Women’s Fiction author of That Was Then, Say You’ll Be Mine, and Evenings at the Argentine Club. Speaker and and teacher.