Writing Through Mental Exhaustion
The first thing I'm going to tell you about writing through mental exhaustion is don't do it. If you're really burnt out and your mind feels like it's crashing in all around you, take some time off and re-channel your energies by
Getting outside in nature
Enjoying your favorite hobby
Authors today are not only the masters of their craft but they are also the brains behind their brand. Being an author is no different from being a small business owner and sometimes juggling all the balls in the air that you need to gets to be too much. If it's too much, it's ok to press pause.
However, if you only think it's too much to handle I'm here to tell you to power through!
I recently had a bought of mental exhaustion and it started to limit my creativity. It got so bad I started to wonder what the point of writing was at all. I mean, the world outside is on the brink of imploding so why does my little story matter?
Your story matters.
Why does it matter? Because it's yours. As soon as I realized that finishing the story was for my benefit first that's when I started to push through. Just getting down the words in a very rough draft was an accomplishment I could be proud of.
You have to finish that story. If you don't, no one else will!
How do you power through? Here's what I did:
Write everyday first thing in the morning
I write best during the day when the sun is out. For some reason at night I need a different distraction. Knowing this, I made it a point to start my day with words. I would sit down with my coffee and write through until lunch. Sometimes if I was on a roll I'd pick back up after lunch too.
Don't worry about word count
I used to write my first drafts long-hand on a legal tablet of paper. Then I'd transfer them to the computer and edit as I went. This takes too much time. My friend got me a really nice laptop. It's smaller and fully loaded with Word so I use that for all my writing. The thing is, while I wrote the nagging little word count pops up on the side. It started to bother me. I was deep into my story and about 20,000 words behind where I wanted to be. But I decided it didn't matter because there is magic in editing and that's where the story really gets flushed out. So I ignored the word count. When I did, I was able to get very close to the final count I wanted anyway.
Enjoy the story
I'm writing a series and I'm on book three. I found myself entertaining new ideas that popped into my head and suddenly I wanted to work on them instead. The allure of something fresh isn't anything new. All writers go through that. The thing is, you can't let it distract you. Jot down notes for the next great adventure but don't divorce your currently WIP yet. You fell in love with those characters for a reason. So i let them tell their own stories and I just document what they were telling me. I wound up taking the story to places I wasn't expecting and it made me excited to finish.
I'm a firm believer of a strong mind-body connection. Wherever the mind goes the body follows and vice-versa. When you exercise it pumps you up with little things called endorphins which put you in a state of euphoria. This energy boost will help you when you need to power through your writing.
So those are just a few things to consider if you're feeling mentally drained. Get out of your own head!
You'll notice I didn't say to read something that inspires you. This is a good option for some authors but it had the opposite effect on me. I was reading Dean Koontz, the author who inspired me to start writing, and I found myself feeling inferior. His writing was so good and his characters jumped off the page in such a way that I felt as though I would never be as good. I'm right, I won't be as good as Dean Koontz because I'm not him. Every author has their own voice and they should never compare themselves to someone else.
What are some ways that you tackle mental exhaustion when writing?