Dorothy Parker once said “I hate writing, I love having written.” I’m sure many authors can completely agree with such a sentiment, as writing can be completely exhausting (not to mention frustrating) more often than not. However, unless you are a professional writer with a deadline, you must gain some sense of gratification – and quite possibly energy – from the writing process, or else you wouldn’t bother.
If you find that writing is exhausting – rather than energizing – here are some things to consider:
Finding the time to write is never easy, but if you expect to simply “squeeze” it in among your other obligations, you will feel stressed and short-changed at every turn. If you really want to write – and to make it a priority in your life – then something else will need to be removed from your schedule to make actual room for your words to blossom on the page. Perhaps you will carve out particular times in your week which will be earmarked for writing (I know one VERY dedicated writer who set her alarm for 2 am to slither down to her office and write while her family was sound asleep), or write instead of some other activity, but writing deserves its own time slot, without adding “guilt and neglecting other things/people” to the stresses of the art.
Whether you need a comfy chair, essential oils or background music (or perhaps a hard bench in a noisy coffee shop), setting the scene goes a long way towards energizing your writing. Every author is different, and some authors even change their writing location completely for each book, but it is important to figure out what works best for you. The wrong chair, lighting or keyboard angle can actually drain you of energy, and in some cases, cause bodily harm over the long run, so whether it is a sunlamp or a chair with lumbar support, find those things that make your body feel comfortable – yet energized – and incorporate them into your writing.
Are you physically drained because of the subject matter itself? If you are committed to writing about something which may be upsetting or exhausting, it is important to pace yourself and take care of your own needs so that you don’t burn out. Perhaps you should write in shorter spurts, taking time to regroup and refresh yourself. Or maybe you would rather get a huge portion done and then treat yourself to something special, completely unrelated to your book.
On the other hand, if your topic is exhausting you because you are struggling mightily to come up with ideas, perhaps this isn’t a topic or storyline that your heart truly wants to pursue. Unless you are working with a book advance and a deadline, you have complete control over the genres, topics and themes that you write about, and you can certainly pick an area that energizes you. Perhaps you need to leave a manuscript for a bit and go on to something different – many authors work in different genres just to keep things “fresh” – and returning to it will shed some new light and interest for you.
Writing – and writing well – certainly requires energy and effort, but by focusing upon your own needs and preferences, you can find ways to prevent burnout and utter exhaustion.