The wall. The block. It exists for all of us, and in my tired brain it seems to be hitting harder than it used to. Normally I don’t run out of things to say when I hit writer’s block – I run out of energy to say them. How can I get fired up to write something amusing or brilliant when I’d much rather be curled up with a mind-numbing novel or perhaps laying in bed staring at the ceiling fan going around and around.
Never in my lifetime prior to becoming a parent did I realize just how exhausted I could become. Sure, I stayed up all night in high school and maybe a few times in college. I worked hard for a few days, but then there came that day when I got to crash and just sleep and relax and rest for hours and hours and hours.
Now, when I get tired, I don’t get to have fifteen hour sleep marathons. I get to have deadlines instead. Like all of us slogging through lives with responsibilities and adorable little alarm clocks that demand to be fed and cared for every morning at 6 am, it hurts sometimes.
So what do you do when you’re facing a brick wall of writer’s block armed with nothing but another Diet Dr. Pepper and some stale almonds? (Hey – we’re down the pantry basics over here – don’t judge.) Why, you take a big slug of caffeine, shake off the doldrums and you take care of your business.
If you’re looking at the clock and realizing that all of the sane people are sleeping or preparing to sleep right now, you’ve got to get over that mindset if you’re hoping to be even a tiny bit productive. Try some yoga. Run in place. Do some jumping jacks. Try a few push-ups. You can’t sleep and feel lazy if the blood is moving. (It helps burn off those almonds, too.)
Use a list.
Staring at a blank document is disheartening. Instead, pull up your calendar or organizer that lists all of the things you’re going to do today. Get started with the easiest one on the list so you can feel you’re making progress. This is a psychological game, after all.
Remember how you used to rock out while you worked on those high school or college essays? And that was before anyone was paying for your brilliance. Put on the channel where you know the most words (Try Love Stinks or Glee on Pandora – I’m a sucker for both) and start singing. Turn it up, jam out, get motivated – just don’t wake up the kids.
Organize for tomorrow.
If you just can’t do it – you’ve tried, but you’re drooling caffeine and almond juice on the keyboard – don’t create something that will be junk. Instead, update your list of things to do tomorrow (that’s code for make it longer), but ease your burden by organizing a bit before you crash.
You can save the documents to the right folders, pull up your notes or find quick resources you can use. Even if it only saves you fifteen minutes, it’s a start. Besides, after you get more sleep tonight, you’ll be better rested and ready to produce tomorrow.