The past couple of weeks, I’ve felt myself waning in my memoir. I wasn’t as excited about writing it. I kept wondering why my book was so long. I kept craving editing. I slept for long hours because I felt physically exhausted. I knew something had to be wrong. (I insist that the thought of “craving editing” was from satan, because who the hell looks forward to editing???)
Like any modern informed person, I took my symptoms to the internet. I googled “Is there a such thing as writing exhaustion?” and up popped several articles about “writer’s fatigue”! It’s a thing, folks!
Several websites listed symptoms such as:
- Thinking everything you’re writing is crap
- Trying to force the words out
- Lack of enthusiasm about writing
- Stalled word count
- Unclear thinking
- Frustration with sentence structure, vocabulary, etc.
Check all of the above off for me the past couple of weeks, and that explains why I’ve really only wanted to drink and sleep for days.
There were several suggestions to help alleviate writer’s fatigue, but those mostly ran the gamut of typical: exercise, napping, guided meditation. None of those resonated with me, so I had to do some thinking. What if, instead of putting out energy (generating), I took some in (consuming)?
So, I set about on a great experiment: I would read for a week to let the writer part of my brain settle down and relax while also letting the rest of my brain be active.
I read everything I could get my hands on, from books to newspapers to literary magazines, and across genres, memoir and fiction alike. I had quite a few essays to read for my creative nonfiction class at Sackett Street Writers online, so those were helpful, too.
Over the course of the week, I took in so much good writing. Yes, I still felt that I am nowhere near as good a writer as anyone published in the Paris Review, but I also learned a lot about a craft that I am really only just recently getting more acquainted with.
There is so much nuance to literary fiction and nonfiction, and that nuance comes from the authenticity of voice. I’m still finding my voice as I write, but now I feel more confident that I will step into it. I’m glad I gave myself the time for (educated) rest for a week. Yesterday, my first day back to writing, I banged out over 4,800 words. It was well worth the rest, my friends!