Can Being Tired Make Us Better Writers?

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Image via Lauriesanders60 WANACommons

Last month I participated in NaNoWriMo even though it’s the holidays and, as many of you know, I am battling the last vestiges of Shingles which makes me tired, like down to the BONES tired. But, lest I go crazy, I had to write, because that’s what writers do. We aren’t happy unless we are writing something. 

I figured in the beginning I likely wouldn’t make the 50,000 word mark not only because of feeling puny, but I also have other writing that doesn’t count toward NaNo.

Yet, the interesting thing is, being tired can have benefits. If we wait until that celestial alignment when the kids aren’t sick, our pants fit, there isn’t a heap of laundry, the garage is clean, the junk mail sorted, and we feel energized? We won’t get a lot of writing done, so here is some food for thought next time you believe you’re too tired to write.

Embrace Being Tired

Okay, first I want to take a moment to acknowledge that we do need rest. We need breaks and days off. Shingles had taught me I am seriously HUMAN. It’s actually humbled me to be better at resting because I love what I do and this makes it easy to overdo.

I’m going to be writing a new NF in 2015, so I needed to REST my left brain and let RIGHT BRAIN have some time to play (ergo NaNo).

Your Body Will Lie to You

Beyond sickness and disasters, our bodies tend to be a bit lazy, and they like to lie. They tell us we need a day or two or twenty off, and the longer we’re away from the work, the easier it is to let things slip, to see a new shiny and start a newer, more exciting project. In this business, time is our enemy. Always remember this.

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Image via JulaiLimjl Flikr Creative Commons

It Will Never Be a “Perfect” Time

We want to wait until we’re rested, the kids are out of the house, until we have total quiet, a new computer, the list goes on. To do this job at a professional level, we have to learn to write no matter what. This is a profession, not a playpen. People often groan that NaNoWriMo is in November and there is all this shopping and cleaning and cooking.

Okay, well, I used to work in sales and they still expected my tail to be on the road selling industrial paper from Mexico to Missouri until that scrawny four days off for vaca. If I was sick? I knew when I came back, I had to bust tail to catch up. Family emergency? Okay, tend it, but then back to get your $#!& done.

Coffee was for closers.

Writing (for those who want to make a living at this) should apply the same rules as other professions. Granted, it’s a LOT harder because no boss is going to write us up or chew us out if we don’t write…and most of our family and friends secretly believe all we do is play with our imaginary friends and we don’t have a “real” job. We need A LOT more self-discipline than other jobs.

I write every day but Sunday with a preschooler whacking me 47 times with a NERF sword before breakfast, all the while Paw Patrol is blazing in the background. I’ve learned to un-see the dirty dishes, the laundry that needs folding, and the Christmas tree that was attacked by my cats in the middle of the night and needs triage.

Distractions=Death

The Spawn

The Spawn

Time is the Enemy

When writing anything (but especially fiction) taking time off can kill momentum. We need to go back, reread, familiarize ourselves with the story and characters (since we’ve slept since that last bit we wrote). This can lead to editing the beginning to death and stalls forward progress. We get bogged down in the first part of the book.

Take too much time? Likely, you’ll have to start all over.

I did. Yes, even NF authors are vulnerable to time. Back in 2011 I scored a premium NYC agent and over a year and a half later? The project was going nowhere. When I finally decided to self-publish my most current social media book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I spent more effort trying to retrofit work I’d done for my agent back in 2011 than I want to admit. Finally, I just scrapped the whole thing and started over. 150 pages of wasted work all because I didn’t keep writing.

My mistake. Won’t happen again.

Sometimes Being Tired Produces Better Writing

I know a lot of you work day jobs, are full-time caregivers, and you’re squeezing in writing when you can. GO YOU! You’re superheroes, and always remember that. Keep pressing.

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Yet, one mistake we make is we don’t tackle the novel when we’re tired. We believe our work will be better if we’ve rested.

This isn’t necessarily true.

Candy runs a workshop she calls Fast Draft. In Fast Draft, you write your novel in two weeks. It is one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever done, but it works. No editing, no going back, just keep going forward. By Day Three, I promise you’ll feel like you’ve been tossed in a bag of hammers and shaken.

BUT…

One of the biggest enemies of great fiction is Conscious Mind. Our internal editor lives there and won’t let us move forward until we get rid of “was clusters” or add more detail to that “jungle scene.” Conscious Mind will have you “being responsible” and browsing the Internet looking at South American plants instead of writing.

Conscious Mind is the Bigger Sibling Who Constantly Calls Little Sister (Subconscious Mind) Stupid and Tells Her to Shut Up

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Image via Life Mental health Flikr Creative Commons

Subconscious Mind is the primal mind. It sees things we don’t, makes connections Conscious Mind, also known as “The Thinking Brain”, misses. Thinking Brain is a bit of a Bossy Pants and likes to shove Subconscious Mind around, give it wedgies and promise that it can jump off the roof with an umbrella and float down.

Hey, Penguin does it all the time.

The best way to get your Subconscious Mind to help you is to wear the bigger, bossier sibling out. This allows the Little Guy an opportunity to help you make magic without the bigger sibling butting in.

Conscious Mind is the Inner Editor, the Inner Critic, the Nit-Picker, whereas the Subconscious Mind (the Limbic and “primitive” brain) is the one who sees value in finger painting and advantages of glitter.

Subconscious Mind will thrust you deeper into the story. Subconscious Mind is like a toddler who jumps head-first off the couch. No fear. There will be greater emotion and the writing often is more visceral. Subconscious Mind plants Seeds of Awesomeness that you will see flower into something more amazing that you believed you were capable of.

But that won’t happen unless Conscious Mind is exhausted and too tired to argue and bully it’s littler sibling.

So if you’re struggling with the WIP, you might just be a little “too rested.” This isn’t to say we don’t take care of ourselves, but total immersion and pressing on even when we’re worn out and would trade everything we own for a nap does have major advantages.

It’s also why I didn’t kill myself to make the 50,000 words for NaNo, but am still plugging. If I take too much time away from the novel, I KNOW I can cause myself more grief than I care to deal with.

Have you ever done a fast draft? Did it help? Do you write even when you’re tired? What has that shown you? What are your thoughts? Questions? War stories?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of DECEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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  1. #1 by Kylie Betzner on December 5, 2014 - 10:05 am

    Great post, Kristen. I have taken your advice since you discussed a similar topic a few months ago and applied that to my 6-year old nephew . . .who makes even stuffed animals explode. I have learned to tune some of his noise out and to write through his being here. I am not a momma at heart. His mom can write through a tornado. Haha. But I’m trying, and with your swift foot to the bottom, I’ve had a lot more motivation and I know I will adjust. Thank you!

  2. #2 by Karen Frisch on December 5, 2014 - 10:07 am

    Best advice ever, Kristen. No excuses. We know, but we silence that inner voice. Thanks for speaking up with the painful truth.

  3. #3 by June Lorraine on December 5, 2014 - 10:13 am

    Reblogged this on Murder in Common and commented:
    This piece from Kristen Lamb is so good I just had to reblog it for you.Please read it and tell me: Do you believe pushing yourself past your seemed limits will get results. Have you achieved a result doing so?

    ~ June Lorraine

  4. #4 by susielindau on December 5, 2014 - 10:14 am

    I don’t know how you get anything accomplished, Kristen! When my kids were young, we didn’t have blogging or internet distractions. Keeping up with the house and the kids took all of my time. I can’t even imagine having shingles on top of all those responsibilities. You Rock!
    I write a lot more when I’m wiped out. I don’t have the energy to talk myself out of it. During NaNoWriMo I had to force myself to write even if I reeeeeeally didn’t want to. My brain would become a two-year-old child who would stamp its feet and scream. I would make it sit in a corner while I finished. What?🙂
    Feel better!

  5. #5 by Stacey Haggard Brewer on December 5, 2014 - 10:17 am

    Thanks for the reminder, Kristen. especially that last half. I intend to have my first draft done by the end of the year. Maybe fast draft is the way to go for me.

    I did some great writing at about midnight last night. I was tired.

  6. #6 by D. Nicole Teague on December 5, 2014 - 10:23 am

    I am a new blogger and this post was very helpful to me. I will keep writing even when I’m tired. http://givingitmybestblog.wordpress.com

  7. #7 by Allan Christa on December 5, 2014 - 10:25 am

    I just read an article about this very issue of how being tired pushes us to better writing because we’re shutting down the snarky editor witch. Works for me—not to the point of drooling–but where delirium meets determination.

  8. #8 by wendysrusso on December 5, 2014 - 10:26 am

    Do you have cameras stashed in my vents and on my person, watching my every waking moment? OMG, I needed to read this today. (And yesterday. And five years ago…)

  9. #9 by KB Gardener on December 5, 2014 - 10:26 am

    Thanks for the insights, Kristen. I’ve taken a break in my writing while I’m going through a period of adjustment after my wife’s passing but I plan to utilize your advice when I get back to writing after the holidays.

    One thing, though–just picking up Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is not enough… you’ve got to READ IT, too! I’m guilty of buying many books on writing and parking them on my virtual TBR shelf. I did it with your book, I’m sorry to say, but I’m correcting that error.

  10. #10 by D. Nicole Teague on December 5, 2014 - 10:27 am

    Oh yea, I don’t know about over looking the dirty dishes. Tried it, can’t do it. lol

  11. #11 by dpnoble on December 5, 2014 - 10:33 am

    A very thoughtfully written post Kristen – I identify with so much of it. And being one of those that writes, but also holds down a full time job I am delighted to be recognised as a superhero! The part about writing when tired is so apt, I just do not have the time to write when I am refreshed – other perhaps than weekends, this means most of my writing is done propped up in bed, with a cup of tea between 11pm and 1am. Those two hours can be very productive, I don’t have time to re-edit every time, so I just try and push the story on. Sure, there are some glaring holes, but I will fill them later – I make notes where I know my storyline has strayed from the plan, or the chronology is suspect, and I’ll then do a thorough edit and read through when I have a big “chunk” to review.

  12. #12 by courtneyherz on December 5, 2014 - 10:47 am

    I just signed up for Fast Draft. What happens after you purchase? Will you get a login or something? I can’t wait to get going.🙂 Thanks for this post. So timely for me.

  13. #13 by August McLaughlin on December 5, 2014 - 10:54 am

    Really great points, Kristen! Prioritizing rest and sleep a few years back, for the first time ever, helped my writing and life–and let’s admit it, my moods LOL –so much. That said, learning to write through storms of stress/exhaustion, etc. makes so much sense. Sometimes writing, even for short bursts, is most important when we feel furthest from “perfect” — which you’re so right, doesn’t exist.

  14. #14 by Ember Leigh on December 5, 2014 - 11:01 am

    Ah, so THIS is why my best writing occurs at night, right before I go to bed! There’s something to being a night owl, after all…

  15. #15 by Lorraine Roe on December 5, 2014 - 11:09 am

    Thank you! Also, so sorry to hear about the shingles and glad you are recovering. I didn’t make the word count deadline for NANOWRIMO either. This inspires me to go back to it! Thank you for your work!

  16. #16 by impossiblebebong on December 5, 2014 - 11:10 am

    This reminds me of the article I’ve read recently: http://www.fastcompany.com/3018084/work-smart/why-were-more-creative-when-were-tired-and-9-other-surprising-facts-about-how-our

    They say people are most creative when they can’t sleep. Great ideas are usually born during wee hours.

  17. #17 by donnajeanmcdunn on December 5, 2014 - 11:17 am

    If I didn’t write when I’m tired, I wouldn’t write at all. I know it’s time to stop and go to bed, if it’s dark outside and I find myself falling asleep at the computer.

  18. #18 by conniecockrell on December 5, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    I always fast draft. My very first real writing experience was NaNo 2011 and I had no idea what I was doing. I just blurted out every planned scene until I reached 50K and the book was done. I have tightened up my planning process but every book is a fast draft, a month or less. And yes. It takes me 3 months or more to edit but all of the words are on the page. There’s something to work with at any rate.

  19. #19 by Angie Quantrell on December 5, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    I absolutely agree. Down to the tree needing triage (which I just walked past) from two kitties. Great article. I’ve been writing forever while working full time. I wrote every chance I had, because that was all I had to write. Now I am at home. There are many, many distractions…I think blocking it out (like the chaos in my office) is a great strategy.

  20. #20 by Kathy Waller on December 5, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    There’s a load of sheets in the laundry ready for the dryer, a load of something else in the dryer ready to be folded, a load of towels on the sofa waiting to be folded, and several more loads of everything waiting for the washer. Before I left home, I stuffed the towels under the couch’s back pillows so the cats can’t sleep on them, maybe. My sleep patterns are messed up. I am t-i-r-e-d. But I am heroically sitting at my office-coffee shop, the best place for me to work, about to pick up the draft of my short story and continue revising. I will feel better once I lose myself in the story. Thank you for telling me I’m doing the right thing.

  21. #21 by realnerdworms on December 5, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Love this post! I had been doing my writing research and planning during the first half of the year. Once I began writing I had to turn off the editor and just go. NaNoWriMo made me take seriously what I had been toying with. Now? I’m addicted to writing. More so than before. And the things that subconscious mind does behind the scenes is incredible! Once December hit it was a relief. Still, after two days of ignoring my novel to rest I had to pick up that laptop again! Not only because I’m afraid of losing momentum, but also because I have reached a place where the story’s getting deep! Thanks for sharing your personal experiences!

  22. #22 by A.J Sendall on December 5, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    Reblogged this on A.J. Sendall and commented:
    Thanks, Kristen, some interesting points.
    I hadn’t thought about it much until reading this post, but one of my most productive periods was whilst singlehanded sailing, and surviving on fifteen minute sleeps for several weeks at a time. I think it was partly the environment, but also being too tired to submit to mistress of inhibition.
    Another thing I notice when writing late at night, is that my writing voice changes, which is probably not a bad thing.
    Thanks for another great post.

  23. #23 by tracikenworth on December 5, 2014 - 1:26 pm

    I have to admit, sometimes, like today, being tired and ill gets me locked into my story more, if only to escape how I really feel for a short while.

  24. #24 by sharrielynn on December 5, 2014 - 1:36 pm

    I really look forward to your posts! You have made such excellent points–especially when it comes to deserting your writing and then needing to scrap the whole thing and start over. That’s happened to me more times than I can count! I have also noticed that my best writing really happens when I’m too exhausted to care if the story is following the outline perfectly.

  25. #25 by symplysilent on December 5, 2014 - 3:02 pm

    Hi Kristen. As House says, “everyone lies”. I’ve also read, somewhere, that writers produce more creative work when they are tired. I’m still trying to reconcile myself with this…especially after I went back and read some of my WIPs later scenes…yikes. Thank you for helping us. Silent

  26. #26 by jrosebooks on December 5, 2014 - 3:16 pm

    Great post! I love fast drafting. It’s now the only way I can write the first draft.

    However, I’m finding it a lot harder to fit in editing time after my full-time job – I think getting the first words down takes less mind energy or something. My brain is just tired after analyzing all day at work to come home and analyze more… And the hour before work editing isn’t cutting it like it did during the first draft (where I could easily crank out at least 1k in the hour before work).

    Slow going…

  27. #27 by Nan Sampson on December 5, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    As always, your timing is impeccable. I’ve lost so many drafts to that gap between writing bouts. This NaNo was a bit of a train wreck. I’m in a retail business – November is our big sale. And of course, all kinds of other idiocy happened (it always does). So I entered the last week of Nano with only 18,000 words. But you know what? I put the pedal to the metal, decided I was NOT going to lose, and somehow, managed to get to 50,000 by the skin of my teeth at the 10th hour (not quite the 11th!). More importantly, I proved to myself that IF I could do this full time 9and someday I will), I could write 6000+ words a day. Was it easy? No. But I was in the zone. Are they the best words ever? No. But they’re words. And no words = no book. Thanks for a great post! Hope you’re feeling better and stronger every day and cannot wait to read your NF book in 2015!

  28. #28 by Kit Dunsmore on December 5, 2014 - 4:39 pm

    Most days “I’m too tired” is really an excuse to avoid writing because I’m too scared. Even when I am really dragging, making myself write has the benefit of making me feel better. I may not be up for a marathon, but any weariness I have is less a “beat up” feeling and more of a “hard-earned tired” feeling, which is a great shift.

    I love the quote about discipline because it is so true. The reason I think writing even when I am tired ultimately feels good is because I know I am honoring my Big Dream. Can’t be a writer if I don’t make the time to write!

    Fantastic post, Kristin! Thanks!

  29. #29 by Kit Dunsmore on December 5, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    PS. As a 9-time NaNoWriMo winner, I am totally into the idea of a fast draft. I take one month a year to push myself to write a completely new story. It’s a great exercise, and some of the drafts have become the start of promising novels.

  30. #30 by Ruth Hartman Berge on December 5, 2014 - 4:54 pm

    This was my first year in Nanowrimo, and you described it to a “T.” One of the best things I got out of it was the motto, “just write.” And I did. I had a plot, but subplots popped up like dandelions and characters went off and did what they wanted to, despite my well-thought-out plot. All because I was “just writing.” Yeah, the manuscript will need to polished and yeah, I’ll probably have to cut things here and there, but overall, I’m one happy, and tired, writer. You’re absolutely right, there is no “perfect” time to write.

  31. #31 by Nina Levine on December 5, 2014 - 5:32 pm

    Since I started publishing late last year, my sleep patterns have totally changed. I used to be a minimum 8-9 hours a night girl but the fact I was pushing myself to meet deadlines while still working full time saw me change to 4-5 hrs a night. I now write full time and have released 7 books in a year and I average 4 hours a night now so pretty much all my writing is done tired. The last book I published was written in about 2 weeks and it is my best book to date. I totally agree with your blog post.
    PS I love your blog posts and they have helped me a lot, so thank you! xx

  32. #32 by Daven Anderson on December 5, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    THIS is the Golden Key to the Chocolate Factory, Kristen Lamb! I still wonder how in the heck I managed to finish my second novel, but that’s a GOOD feeling.

  33. #33 by Jack on December 5, 2014 - 8:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Wyrdwend and commented:
    I have often wondered the same thing myself. I have even experimented on numerous occasions with self-induced altered mental and psychological states, to see what degree of conscious and useful control I could exercise over such states.

    But not just with “altered writing states.” But with altered mental and psychological states involving scientific discovery, invention, composing, thinking, song-writing, mystical and spiritual experiences, perception, observation, and even with things like case-work and detective work.

    There is to me a correlational relationship between rest, sleep (and the lack thereof), and mental and psychological productivity and insight.

  34. #34 by Christina Ochs on December 5, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    This is so true! My most productive hours are between 2 and 6 am, when I’m tired, but not sleepy. I regularly write 5k words at a stretch during that time. These days, I rarely bother sitting down to write before midnight, unless I know I have to be up early.

    It’s even hard to take time off. I told myself I would take Thanksgiving and the day after, but I couldn’t do it. Thanksgiving morning found me in bed with the laptop, writing a chapter before family arrived.

    Realizing that conditions don’t have to be perfect in order to write is probably the most important realization for any aspiring writer.

  35. #35 by kirizar on December 5, 2014 - 10:25 pm

    Hmm, I was thinking my writing suffered the later I wrote, but perhaps that is just impaired reading skills and I am confused by my unknown genius. I too live half-exhausted or more most of the time. And yes, Nano is killer and I’m still catching up on the @($&! housework.

  36. #36 by Lace Winter on December 5, 2014 - 11:30 pm

    Wow, as with apparently everyone else commenting here, this really spoke to me. I would not have thought that I write better tired — I’ve always thought I write best early in the morning and coffee-infused — but early mornings are rarely actually available, and late nights when all I want to do is read a few pages and collapse are. Thank you for this, it’s an inspiration like so much that you write.

  37. #37 by Beyond the picket fence on December 6, 2014 - 12:07 am

    I needed to read this today. I need to feel tired for the right reasons; from working on my writing. I lose it all in everyone else’s needs. I am putting that laundry basket down and getting on with it.🙂

  38. #38 by lalouziane on December 6, 2014 - 2:02 am

    Great advice. I have the tired part down already… now to work on the other.

  39. #39 by Deborah Makarios on December 6, 2014 - 3:13 am

    I find my creative mind is fizzing when I’m sleepy, but a leaden lump when I’m tired. I don’t waste much time with the Edit brain when I write, it’s more staring out the window visualising the next bit. Not that that’s a waste🙂

  40. #40 by Shana Lehrmann on December 6, 2014 - 3:37 am

    I always write exhausted. I have had Fibromyalgia since I was a kid. People who say they can’t do anything just because they’re tired need to read bios of some of the famous people who did amazing things despite chronic illness.

  41. #41 by Beverley H. Hanes on December 6, 2014 - 3:57 am

    What a beautiful article! Thanks for posting it just for me. Sorry about the Shingles. I realized I had a case of shingles even if it is always only one big place that pops up. As you know the pain is bad. The cream is wonderful for the pain. Always keep a tube where you can find it quick like your underwear drawer. I took the shot but 5 years ago, later they showed back up. I am a new writer who has to get with it. Beverley H. Hanes

  42. #42 by Giana on December 6, 2014 - 4:27 am

    You’re always an inspiration Kristen, thank you! Sometimes is hard to win against laziness and tiredness, and I’ll remember this post next time I feel like slacking off :}

  43. #43 by Divya on December 6, 2014 - 7:25 am

    Reblogged this on The Belletris (http://divyabgowda.wordpress.com) and commented:

    I am not a writer. I am single. I have a help to cook and clean the dishes, and yet I feel exhausted balancing my full time job, laundry (i almost don’t do it till at a gun point of no-clean-panties for tomorrow), blogging and reading. Kristen,the creator and the brain behind W.A.N. A; may or may not have exposed the roguish mind’s trick here- it’s lying !!

    Must read !!!

  44. #44 by Glynis Jolly on December 6, 2014 - 12:40 pm

    You just might be right, Kristen. I stayed up after Hubby went to bed last night and got into small revisions of my WIP. I have left this project alone for a few day (yes, big mistake). I wasn’t sure if I could get into it again. Doing the revisions helps a lot. I didn’t go to bed until 4am.

  45. #45 by Allie P. on December 6, 2014 - 7:11 pm

    Great post! I find I am less inhibited when I am too exhausted to care. It makes sense then that the writing would be better.

  46. #46 by njmagas on December 7, 2014 - 2:32 am

    I find that I really can’t write when I’m tired. Tired me lacks the focus necessary to combine finger coordination with the thoughts and ideas in my head, and most often, tired me ends up staring unblinking at the computer screen, wondering why the words I’m thinking aren’t appearing in the document.

    But, I do agree that time has to be made to write, so I do my writing in the morning when, even though my body wants nothing more than to be warm and cozy in bed, my mind is ready to weave some of last night’s dreams into something coherent. After a cup of coffee or two, my body is more or less on the same page, too.

    Aside from the times when the creative well does dry up and I need to take a couple days to let it refill, I keep to this schedule pretty religiously.

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Shingles is nothing to sneeze at.🙂

  47. #47 by El Kadiri, auteur. on December 7, 2014 - 4:46 am

    Quietude… What else !

  48. #48 by Jennifer @ This Off Script Life on December 7, 2014 - 5:57 am

    Thanks Kristen. I just finished a first draft of a novel and was planning on stepping away from it during the holidays (writing blog entries during this time instead) so that I can look at the novel with a fresh set of eyes in January. But now I’m wondering whether I should dive back in. What do you think about short breaks?

  49. #49 by mjpullen on December 7, 2014 - 7:14 am

    OMG. Paw Patrol. It’s never NOT on….

  50. #50 by Charlotte Gerber, Mystery Author on December 7, 2014 - 7:37 am

    Reblogged this on Charlotte Gerber.

  51. #51 by Miranda Anderson on December 7, 2014 - 1:59 pm

    Hi Kristen,
    I couldn’t let another post go by without telling you how thankful I am for your blog! Your posts have been a tremendous source of encouragement and inspiration, and I know I am a better writer thanks to your invaluable lessons on craft. You are a gifted teacher, and this first-time novelist so appreciates the company on this lonely road. Thank you!
    Miranda

  52. #53 by Raani York on December 7, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    Wow… your post reminded me of the few times I have tried to write when I was tired.
    One of the pieces I wrote didn’t make sense anymore, no matter what eye I used to read it. And the others I had to throw away, they were really bad…
    Since then I make sure I’m alert and prepared and looking forward to the time I do spend writing.

  53. #54 by WriteFitz on December 7, 2014 - 6:35 pm

    Though I regretted my late night foray this morning during church, I did finish my piece last night and sent it off as promised to my beta readers (though they were all asleep!). Thanks for the affirmation🙂

  54. #55 by thomasreich on December 7, 2014 - 8:37 pm

    Great inspiration, Kristen! I didn’t win NaNo either. I found a major plot hole and decided that I should go back and fix that. Maybe that wasn’t the best tactic. So do you have advice when a writer is both tired AND frustrated?

    • #56 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 8, 2014 - 8:48 am

      Back away and rest. Do something else. But set a time limit on it. Your subconscious either knows the answer and you aren’t listening or it is figuring it out. NO MORE THAN A WEEK away until the draft is finished. Just my POV.

  55. #57 by Lisa Haman on December 8, 2014 - 8:17 am

    I needed to hear this today. Due to financial constraints, I had to get a job, and my writing has suffered. Life isn’t going to change, so I have to adapt and overcome. Writing when I’m tired is just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  56. #58 by lisabuiecollard on December 8, 2014 - 10:29 am

    The closest I’ve come to doing a Fast Draft is NaNo, and I’ve done it two years in a row now. I agree with you on sticking with the story until the end is done. I love having a full novel to revise, not a partial. I’ll have to see how the working while tired scenario works because when my brain is fried, I do find it very hard to write. Not so much when my body is tired, just my brain…

  57. #59 by Rii the Wordsmith on December 8, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    I can’t do revised versions fast, but fast drafting is the only way I can complete a first draft. Otherwise I get too far away from the characters and they stop trusting me due to feeling abandoned and I lose the flow.

  58. #60 by Jennifer's Journal on December 8, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    You have your tree up??? And I thought I was disorganized.😉
    Seriously, I believe in the fast first draft. After taking part in Nanowrimo for the first time this year and winning, all my doubts of producing something decent at that pace have vanished. It’s the little break I’m taking now that has me worried. Will Christmas sabotage my plans to start editing in a timely manner? Stay tuned…

  59. #63 by OzarkScyfyWriter on December 8, 2014 - 4:46 pm

    You have my complete agreement. I made this realization a few years ago when I wrote a short story at 3 AM in the morning, finished it in under an hour and had it turn out to be one of my best ever. the same goes for a comedy play that I worked on last year.

    It’s funny how easily so many people overlook the fact that just being tired can improve their writing in sooo many ways! thanks for helping spreading the word on such a simple technique! Really enjoyed the post!

    ~OzarkScyFyWriter

  60. #64 by OzarkScyfyWriter on December 8, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    Reblogged this on The Never Ending Path and commented:
    So Very True! I recommend everyone give this post a read. It’s easy to overlook such a simple writing technique, but take it from me: Writing when you are tired WORKS!

  61. #65 by lbegallie on December 8, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Great post. This really resonates with me right now because I gave up on NaNo part way through the month and now I am staring at my 20k words and thinking “Why did I stop? Now what do I do?”
    It’s going to take some time to get back into the story fully and then I am going to take your advice and power through the rest of it🙂

  62. #66 by emilycharlotteould on December 8, 2014 - 5:13 pm

    This is the best writing advice I’ve heard in a while. I get a lot from writing with inspirational quotes (especially from Twitter) but this is actual real good solid writing advice which is explained and even taps into science a bit. I was going to go straight to sleep after watching The Royal Variety Show tonight but now I think I might strain my brain a little and carry on writing my novel. I’ll see what creativity awaits.

  63. #67 by ocjarman1 on December 9, 2014 - 6:37 pm

    Yes, I’ve been beyond just tired–down right sleepy at my desk!! This makes me whacko to the max!! Quite alot of this is due to possible sleep apnea, meds, and/or m.s. or ALL of those. As I read this of yours, Kristen, I’m very guilty of ‘committing’ all these writerly crimes

  64. #68 by ocjarman1 on December 9, 2014 - 6:40 pm

    Reblogged this on ocjarman and commented:
    This is so needed, by yours truly!!

  65. #69 by Ch'kara on December 9, 2014 - 9:58 pm

    Reblogged this on Ch'kara SilverWolf.

  66. #70 by Kathy Waller on December 9, 2014 - 10:03 pm

    Reblogged this on To write is to write is to write and commented:
    Yesterday, I posted on Writing Wranglers and Warriors a piece (Boy, Am I Cranky) prompted by this post on Kristin Lamb’s Blog. I provided a link to that blog, but in case you didn’t have time to read it, I’m reblogging it. In a couple of days I’ll tell a (not-funny-to-me-except-in-hindsight-and-maybe-not-even-then) story about why that 2-hour post took more than five hours to write.

  67. #71 by Susanne Leist on December 10, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    I agree as always with your words. My subconscious mind or my little voice as Thomas Magnum used to say is my creativity. It wakes up later in the day; sometimes 1:00 in the morning and then I’m off on a roll. My body get tired, but not my mind. My mind is always awake, even when I sleep. My dreams are in vivid colors with unusual characters. I try to keep my conscious mind away until I’m finished. You can see traces of it here, putting in commas and semi colons. Let the little voice live on! (I’m keeping in the bad quotation mark)

  68. #72 by michaelcairns on December 11, 2014 - 2:21 am

    Hi Kristen
    Great post, thanks. I follow what you’ve said here every day! I write 7 days a week, every week. The upshot of that is 2 1/2 million words of original fiction in the last 2 years and, hopefully, 15 novels being released in 2015🙂
    I do work a day job and have 2 tiny people at home, as well as a healthy chocolate addiction to manage, so exhaustion seems to be a perpetual state. However, my conscious mind barely gets a look in🙂
    Cheers
    Mike

  69. #73 by myrealjourney on December 11, 2014 - 6:09 pm

    Reblogged this on Myrealjourney and commented:
    Thanks a lot, for generous mentoring. We’re all tired, but fulfilled!

  70. #74 by Talia Pente on December 14, 2014 - 8:12 am

    Hi Kristen,

    I must say I am one of those people who constantly passed on Nano due to the timing. It wasn’t so much the holiday as it was the fact that practically everybody I am related to is born in November–parents, nieces, husband, offspring…obviously Valentine’s Day works!

    This year, however, I plunged in. I hooked up with a few friends and got connected with a group that does constant sprinting…and I DID it! And Damn it was hard.I’m still plugging away on the novel and last night I read some of what I wrote and it’s bare bones…but it’s there. On the page. Waiting for me.

    And some amazing things began happening…like plot twists and really cool backstory and ideas for the next novel in the series…heck, I even managed some foreshadowing. It was fabulous to be so focused.

    Of course I do have a brother with a JD who actually commented that 50K in a month should be “easy.” But then, my other brother and I have been saying that he was left on the doorstep by gypsies for decades.

    Glad that you are feeling better, too.

  71. #75 by Cindy Bruchman on December 16, 2014 - 8:05 am

    Great article. I’ve been forcing myself to plunge forward without thinking about it. I think in terms of the human body. The skeletal system first, then add the organs and add the blood stream, etc. Or, I’ll take one chapter at a time otherwise, I feel daunted with so much revision ahead of me. I’m impatient. I want to see how the story ends😉

  72. #76 by womenwhothinktoomuch on December 18, 2014 - 7:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie and commented:
    I hope so…

  73. #77 by Isabel Elliott on December 23, 2014 - 5:44 pm

    I tried an experiment. After writing this post i challenged myself to writewhen i was really fatigued. I always assumed that if I was tired and tried to write I would just stare at the screen and struggle to produce every sentence. I found out the oppsite was true because when I was tired so was my inner critique. I spent less time fighting over every sentence. I was able to settle into a peaceful rhythm, that when i am feeling awake and alert isnt possible. It is nice that I can’t use the “I’m too tired excuse” anymore. Thank you for all of your helpful guidance.

  74. #78 by ocjarman1 on January 5, 2015 - 8:33 pm

    Hi again! Is there a difference between being tired & being sleepy? For the longest time, I’ve been very sleepy, to the point of dozing off at my desk. My WIP suffers as a result.

    • #79 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 6, 2015 - 10:43 am

      Try cutting gluten out of your diet. Do it three days. If your body can’t tolerate it, when you get into it again you will know. When I didn’t realize I was allergy, I was exhausted all the time. Even diagnosed with CFS, Barr-Epstien, and Mono. All it was? Couldn’t tolerate gluten.

  1. Can Being Tired Make Us Better Writers? | ugiridharaprasad
  2. Boy, Am I Cranky | Writing Wranglers and Warriors
  3. Boy, Am I Cranky | To write is to write is to write
  4. I am too tired.. | The Belletrist
  5. Wednesday links: NaNoWriMo, book promotion, being tired, and agent questions | Miranda Burski
  6. Weekly Top Ten: Quotes | Planted in the Sky
  7. Framework: Skeleton vs Bag-of-Bones | The Gillicrist Pen

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