Writer’s fatigue comes in many forms. I used to write almost every day, but now that I write for work, my personal projects have fallen to the wayside. At the end of the day, my right hand is cramping, my back hurts, and my neck aches. Sure, some of this is simply anxiety, but some of it comes with the job description of being a freelance writer. Writer’s fatigue is real, and it may be something that writers with mental illness deal with more often than others. Depression and anxiety can be exhausting mentally, but the physical symptoms are hard to deal with, too. Mental health conditions can lead to poor sleep, poor eating habits, neck and back problems, and headaches, which make writer’s fatigue worse. Because writer’s fatigue is something every writer faces at some point in their career, I’ve rounded up some ways to fight it.
6 Ways To Deal With Writer’s Fatigue
- Remember that writing is hard work. Physical and mental work. Organizing all your scenes, coming up with character backstory, writing that gripping climax… all of that is exhausting (and exhilarating) work that can lead to hand cramps and headaches. So many treat us as if writing is only a hobby. Why should we get tired if we’re not even working? Because we are. Writing is hard work. If it wasn’t, all those people wouldn’t be saying “I would write a book if only…” Remember that it’s normal to be feeling fatigued, and be kind to yourself when you need to take a break.
- Remember that you’re not the only one. I beat myself up for not writing more. Even if my back hurts, I think about Stephen King churning out novels within months. I tell myself I’m being a wimp. So when I hear about bestselling writers like William Boyd discuss their writer’s fatigue, I feel valid. He writes for three hours a day. I was relieved when I read this, thinking Me too! I’m not a failure! Sometimes just knowing that others experience it, too, is enough.
- Track your fatigue with a fatigue manager. For the first six months that I began freelance writing, I knew that my neck hurt more, but I didn’t make the connection to my writing chair until I started using the Health Storylines Fatigue Manager. Because the app prompts me with questions about the cause of my fatigue, I was able to put together the pieces and realize that I needed to get a new desk chair. It seems simple, but the app helps me keep track of when my fatigue spikes, showing a history of fatigue level and possible causes. The digital record helps me stay on top of my writer’s fatigue and keep a log of it for my doctor, as well.
- Take breaks. Computers screens can strain your eyes and give you a headache. Consider adjusting the screen brightness. Make sure to look away from the screen every 15 minutes or so. If your eyes are feeling dry, consider getting up from your desk and letting your eyes rest. I struggle with taking breaks because I get sucked into whatever I’m doing. If you’re like me, set a timer every 15 or 30 minutes to stretch, unclench your jaw if needed, and take a minute to recharge.
- Invest in a good chair. Did you see this one coming? I had been told to get a good writing chair before, but I always rolled my eyes. Who could afford that? Even when I had the money, it felt like such a luxury. When I started using a fatigue manager and discovered that my desk chair was the source of my neck pain, I mentioned the problem to my friend, and she gave me her old desk chair. I never realized just how much pain I was in until it wasn’t there anymore. I just accepted the pain as part of the job. Why didn’t I listen sooner?
- Get a good night’s sleep. I’ve had trouble sleeping my entire life. It wasn’t until I started taking a medication that helps me sleep that I realized how badly my lack of sleep was affecting me. I felt rigid and on edge all the time. My head was fuzzy, my eyes tired. I couldn’t concentrate or get anything done. Getting a good night’s sleep helps ward off stress and keeps us productive. A good night’s sleep is the most important thing for me to stay on top of my mental health and get my work done. If you’re feeling fatigued, a lack of sleep only makes things worse.
About The Author:
August Blair is the blogger behind Writers With Mental Illness. She is a freelance writer and student. She is passionate about writing and psychology. She studies at The University of North Georgia. You can find her writing online and in print. Connect with her on Instagram and Goodreads.