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Monday, June 21, 2010

I've been diagnosed with Creative Fatigue

To keep myself honest, and force myself to write, I've been sending daily updates to my Battle Buddy (Amy Laurens). Last week I broke down, closed Twisted Metal, and went to gallivant in Shiny New Idea Town.

Oh, my! So. Much. FUN!!!

I'm a plot whore, and the seductive whispers of a new plot full of conflict, explosions, and really fast ships is just to much for me to ignore.

At the end of the day, my literary morals in tatters, I limped back to my Battle Buddy to beg forgiveness.

So, again, utter failure to work on TM. This is several days in a row. I'm a bit frustrated to be honest. I don't know what to do with TM. And isn't that typical of me. I have the ending, and the start, and can't piece together the bridge. I'm furious. And a bit depressed because I have this Jaunary query deadline and have buried myself in free books from the library for the past several days.

I'm not getting anything done.

Amy, being an altogether perfect foil for my many moods, wrote back:

I have one thing to say to you:

Creative fatigue :P

Dude, seriously, I will have grey hair and three kids and five dogs and be a full time professional writer before you learn the lessons you're supposed to learn from this life. Sometimes I think you need these concepts bashed into your head with a cast iron pot :P

Writers don't HAVE to write every day.
If you're blocked on something, you're probably going the wrong way.
It's okay to take a break. Creative muscles get fatigued too.
You are human. Humans are imperfect. Wishing won't change this. Neither will trying. Deal.

Yes, she does know me well. Better than a Writing Mercenary to keep me working. Quoting from the article Amy linked to:

It's not unusual for writers to be stressed out -- it's kind of an occupational hazard -- but lately I've noticed some unusual signs of fatigue popping up around the blogosphere. It's not just people neglecting their blogs or virtually disappearing for weeks at a time.
Gee whilikers... does that sound like me? Yes, yes it does.

Artistic people like writers also seem to be prone to what I call creative fatigue -- aka the well running dry.
Okay, not quite. I don't run out of ideas. I run out of ideas for my main WIP. For Twisted Metal it wasn't a lack of ideas, it was an inability to differentiate between the scenes I NEED and the scenes that probably fit but are useless to the plot. I posted about it last week, and I'm still struggling to take my own advice.

The solution was to walk away for a bit. And to shove my character into a time machine, jump ahead two weeks, and crash another shuttle. I've always liked flying, but I will never get on any airborne machine with the FMC from Twisted Metal. If she is on the plane, it will crash.

The stress of trying to be-all and do-all as a professional writer inevitably and negatively affects the writer as well as the quality of their work, which tips over the seven dominoes of writer self-destruction via creative fatigue: exhaustion, paranoia, burn-out, depression, isolation, renunciation and, finally, tossing in the towel.

I'm nipping this baby in the bud. I have no intention of tossing in the towel, which means I need to stop Creative Exhaustion a step ahead. Keeping a summer schedule is not a skill I've ever had.

Despite my best intentions (and lesson plans!) my children are camped out in their pajamas on the bean bag in my study reading books while I type up this post. They are supposed to be doing world maps and learning about different cultures this week. Are maps more important than blog posts?

I really don't know.

It's all a balance, and I still haven't found mine. While I go look for balance (and write the next chapter of Twisted Metal), go read the post on Creative Fatigue. Let me know what you think. Let me know what you do to keep the balance.



  1. Wow, that's incredible. I'm like that as well. Didn't know I was a plot whore, exactly, but it describes me to a T. I'm also all the other stuff you said. Hard to remember the good sounding words you used. But I have it. Schedule? Summer? do not work well together for me.

    I think your writing buddy is awesome and right on target. Keep writing, but allow yourself to be human.

  2. I have to do something relatively boring to get the creative juices flowing again. Household chores, watching movies or watching TV...anything that doesn't require my brain to be actively working. It's like my mind needs a reset...and once I get bored enough, the creative part starts working again.

    I try to have some time every day where I'm not actively trying to solve problems (that's what I do most of the day at work, and then of course at night with writing) or interact with people. Usually TV in the evenings and making dinner. I'd like to add a workout to that. When I don't get that "down time" for my brain, everything in my life suffers for it.

    Good luck in refueling your creativity and moving on...

  3. ...To be fair, I do already have a significant amount of grey hair, and I have two dogs with plans for a third. So you know. The days of your lesson learning may not be toooo far away O:)