I’ve been Googling something on my mind for a while: the fact that writing is exhausting. The issue isn’t that writing isn’t enjoyable, or even that I lack time to do it. The act of writing itself is a mental exercise demanding a disproportionate amount of oxygen for our brains. This fact eludes some people who can rightfully claim to be physically exhausted after a long day of work, but wrongly believe office or administrative work isn’t tiresome in their own way. In my personal life, I separate these into being physically tired versus mentally weary, the difference being that weariness feels like my metaphorical battery has run dry.
If writing is a form of mental work–and it is–is there a way to make the work easier? One article proposes stretching the work out, as much as possible for a given assignment. I’ve come to greatly appreciate the role outlines play in my productivity. For those who believe in the “pantser vs planner” dichotomy, I’d suggest seeing an outline as an opportunity to “pants” your writing in short form. I think outlines save me a lot of energy that I don’t want to exhaust when halfway through a story, when the prospect of changing whole chapters and plot lines is too daunting.
One unconventional article suggests that the cure to writer’s fatigue is to stop writing entirely. The fervor brought about by NaNoWriMo and other campaigns produces a lot of crappy drafts that we pour our hearts into, while books that are already written languish in local libraries and bookstores. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t read enough fiction despite my wish to create stories of my own. Perhaps my own writing would be less exhausting if I read more work from others who have completed the path to publishing. Writers in the academic world have to cite pre-existing research before pursuing their own theses; fiction writers, if they wish to make literature others will identify with, could similarly benefit from this methodology.
I know I like to write earlier in the day rather than later. Maybe I can do some writing in the office, since it’s no secret that people are only productive for a couple of hours anyway. Now if only I could get people to stop talking to me at work…