The Creativity Leak: Fatigue

My novel, unfortunately, has come to a standstill, and not because I’m out of ideas. It’s because of a slow leak in my brain called fatigue.

Well, Isn’t “Fatigue” Just Being Tired?

Not necessarily. I used to think fatigue just meant I wasn’t sleeping well enough, but I have come to understand how wrong that viewpoint is.

Fatigue doesn’t just make you sleepy. In fact, it can make you the opposite of sleepy–you can end up so tired you can’t sleep, so used to the flow of adrenalin keeping you going that your body can’t relax enough to sleep.

Fatigue also takes away your energy to think and do things. You feel about 50% alive at all times, as if the other 50% of you is still in bed, and your thought processes are noticeably slower and less fleshed-out. There’s tons of stuff you want to do, tons of stuff you need to do…but even just thinking about it all makes you more tired.

This is what I’ve been suffering for the last few weeks, and my overall creativity has really taken a hit. Aside from time spent at the keyboard, I haven’t done much creative work except these Saturday blog posts (which, admittedly, have been much harder to come up with because of fatigue). And it’s not for lack of wanting to create–I just end up feeling too tired to deal with it.

This kind of tiredness, as I’ve found, leads to frustrated creative desire…and can leave you feeling painfully unfulfilled in your creative life.

Getting Rid of Fatigue So You Can Be Your Creative Self Again

This is as much for me as it is for y’all–I need this advice, too!

First, don’t fight fatigue with forced energy.. Pushing on through and trying to force creativity will only render an inferior product. You’ll be unhappy with what you’ve done, and you won’t want to try again for fear of the same terrible results. (See: my failed attempts at writing a “really good” song, leading to the fear that I’d “lost my gift.”)

Second, uncover the cause of your fatigue. It could be a chemical imbalance, a minor illness that just won’t go away, a vitamin deficiency, job stress, or even just a simple lack of GOOD sleep. Explore all these causes, and truly listen to your body.

In my case, I’ve had a cold and sore-throat bug that has been ongoing for several weeks, and the resulting fatigue left me nearly unable to write anything creative. How I’ve been able to come up with blog posts consistently is beyond me–I guess it is a labor of love. LOL

(I also must warn you to get checked out by the doctor if at-home treatments like vitamin capsules and meditation do not work for you. Fatigue can be a symptom of something worse going on. 🙁 )

Third, allow your energy to come back slowly. Don’t expect to feel absolutely AMAZING the day after you’ve figured out what’s wrong and started treating it. It will take a few days for your body to get back on the energy train, and possibly even longer for your brain to get back its precious creative juices.

Right now, for instance, I’m using these creative Saturday posts to get back my own creative juices. I know the ideas for my novel are up there, but I can’t pressure them to come out–it’s like pressuring a souffle to cook. If you rush it, it deflates. So I have to be okay with what I can do now, and look forward to getting back on the ball.

Fourth and finally, celebrate your efforts, however small they might look. Right now, I’d be glad if I could write 50 words in my novel; that’s how bad my fatigue has been. If I can muster the mental energy to do it, I will be as happy as if I’d written 5,000.

Similarly, you can’t be upset with yourself if you don’t snap back to epic creativity right away. Be glad for the little, itty-bitty victories. If you let yourself celebrate those, you’ll have a more positive frame of mind and thus set yourself up for bigger and bigger victories.

With this good advice in mind (I’m like Alice in Wonderland, I guess–“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it”, lol), I hope I’ll be back to writing my novel very, very soon. I hope, if you’re feeling a little tired and out of creative energy, that this helps you get back in your game, too. 🙂

2 thoughts on “The Creativity Leak: Fatigue”

  1. Oh man, fatigue is a powerful beat indeed. I would say I feel 50% most of my life, but that’s because I compare myself to Sleepy from Snow White. I am an overly mellow person, and usually, I end up napping because of it, lol.

    However, I have been there, where fatigue removes you from writing, mentally.

    I agree with all your points, especially “celebrate your efforts, no matter how small”, except for one. “Don’t fight fatigue with forced energy.”

    Although it’s different for everyone, for me, I have learned from a few good friends and writers that getting the first sentence down is always tough. It will make you sit there for 3 hours. But once you got it, it begins to flow. Even when I didn’t feel like writing, I tried to force myself to get SOMETHING down, just for the sake of using my talent, just for the sake of having something to work with later, even if I end up scrapping it. Just kind of keeps you on the ball so to speak.

    But it doesn’t work for everyone.

    Anyway, good luck indeed! Writing is tough, but man, is it fun when you get over the hill. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the comment! 😀 😀

    What I meant by “forced energy” is the kind of nervous, quivering energy of “OMG I have to do this right now,” which tends to stress me out even more and push my creative juices even further away. Being forced or expected to do something has always made it 10x harder for me to do it–if I’m allowed to come to it naturally, it’s a lot easier.

    (See: homework assignments for school versus random, heavily-involved creative projects done during the summer. One always got procrastinated on till the last minute, while the other got done quickly and with joy.)

    A little self-nudge never hurt anything, though–feeling free enough to write that first sentence, as you say, seems to open the door to everything else you’re about to write. For me, that freedom has to come first through letting go of the stress and tension of trying to write perfection and always failing.

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