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Strained Brain? How to Stoke Your Mental Fire

Image: close-up photo of flames rising from burning logs “Home” by Phil Gradwell is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Today’s post is by author and writer Kim Catanzarite( @kimcanrite ). Her psychological thriller They Will Be Coming for Us is out now.

It happens to everyone from time to time: You’re exactly not too excited about being a writer anymore.

As we all know, the road to writing “success” can be a long one. One that seems, at times, never ending. Because even if you contact your goal, whatever that may be, there’s a brand-new aim waiting for you beyond that one. A brand-new notebook. A brand-new series, commodity, or paper. You have to finally admit it: you’re tired.

Is that a surprise? Most people who write have a small battalion of flying objectives in the air: young children to raise or elderly parents to care for or a significant other or friends who require experience and courtesy( and lights out )– in other words, a life. We’re invariably scooting to meet a self-imposed deadline, unnerved that we “never have enough time.” Is it any surprise that we eventually reach a point of fatigue?

Not feeling the burn

What I’m describing is not writer’s block( Jane’s blog ). What I’m talking about has more to do with mental ardor: the kind that burns when your clevernes is stoked, that “can’t wait to get up in the morning” zest, the “I have the best idea for the stage I’m working on” thrill. When you’re not feeling any of that, when your writing discussions end with a sigh instead of a “that was awesome, ” when you feel like you precisely don’t care anymore–it’s time to take a break from writing.

To some, this is a scary prospect. You might say, “But I’ve worked so hard to get in the habit of waking at 4:30 am, and if I stop now, I may never start again.”

My answer to that is very simply “Make the project and stick to it.” That’s all. Stick to the plan. If you decide to stop writing for one solid week, if you absolutely forbid yourself to write for an entire 168 hours, you can come back freshened and, more than that, enthusiastic to get to work, all cylinders burning. The program is simple but strong. And it’s merely 1 week. But what a difference one week can make.

Diagnose yourself

Does any of the following hubbub familiar?

You transmit queries( or suggestions or short-lived tales) to operators( or journalists or literary publications) four days ago, and the rebuffs have been coming in. After the last one you received, you uttered the universe an ultimatum: if I get one more accept, I assert I will QUIT writing. And you convey it this time.You’ve been rising early and heading to bed late in the name of getting a few extra minutes of writing time in for months, or times, or even decades. Burning the candle periods two, in other words, and you know what your mother always am talking about that.You’re starting to feel angry when you hear about other people’s achievers. Even other parties you don’t know. New book freeings used to be something to get excited about but lately they just seem like scribes showing off. Plus, you’re angry at Reese and/ or Oprah and/ or Jenna for not choosing your bible for her club, even though your book hasn’t been published yet.You’ve taken on a general air of yearning. Your significant other impedes asking why you’re so cranky/ snippy/ fill-in-the-blank lately. Your father asked you not to call him again until you’ve had an attitude adjustment.Your migraines are back with a vengeance. Or you’re having back spasms on a regular basis. You’re not sleeping well and “when youre doing”, your fitness tracker says you’re not going into “deep.” You desire junk food and soda–and perhaps other, little wholesome things. In general, you’re starting to feel years older than you actually are.Your accumulation is shot. You spent the last hour set commas in and taking them out again. Or looking for a synonym for the word “very.” Then you looked out the window and watched a robin pluck a snake from the lawn, and you thought that seemed like fun.You no longer care what trouble your MC gets into and has no plans of bailing him or her out again. You haven’t written an interesting paragraph( in your cranky mind) in weeks.

If any of this describe how “youre feeling”, get ready to book that vacation!

The Plan

Do not write for one part week. At all. Not on your computer , not on a forbid nappy. As a matter of fact, hide your computer. Stow away all writing utensils and gazettes. Do not put one word down on paper that doesn’t have to do with a grocery grocery list. You’re going into it cold turkey, so do what you have to do to break the round, get off the hamster pedal. On day three or four members of this trip, you may naturally ordeal a shimmer of desire to write. You may be reminded of that superb stage at the midpoint of your notebook, and you’ll reach for a pencil even though you know you’re not supposed to–but don’t. Wait. Let the desire build. It’s all part of the program. Promise yourself right now. You are are prohibited from writing for 168 hours.

Instead of writing, use your freed-up time to do the following considerations 😛 TAGEND

Read. Read beautifully written journals. Those that engender you( see my suggestions now ). A classic or two, or any of your favorites. Take a look at the novel( or memoir or nonfiction book) that most determined you want to write. Again, let the construe arouse you, but do not boot up your computer. Remember what it was like to read for the sake of simply reading.Call some of the people you’ve been avoiding for the past few years since you’ve sworn off phone conversations in the name of using every free second to write. They’ve missed you, and you probably have a lot to talk about.Partake in an activity that requires creative vigour of a different sorting. Cook a real meal or paint a picture. Yes, you may use that pencil to jot a grocery list, but subsequently, completely lost. Then get in the kitchen and move something everyone in the household will enjoy. Or, take out the paintings and canvas and tap into the abstract side of your ability. Enjoy what it feels like to have no expectations.Go for a walk. Remember exercise? If you don’t sit at your desk for an entire week, I can( basically) guarantee you your trendy sockets with thank you. Plus walking stimulus creativity, which will further build up your desire to write.Meditate for a couple of minutes a day. Just breathe, as “theyre saying”. Or if you’re not one for reflection, simply top to the nearest park and listen to the wind, fowls, rain, children frisking nearby. You need stress easing, and mood is happy to comply. If you have a day job outside of the residence, you can do this after your commute or during lunch.Get face-to-face with those you love–because sometimes we scribes are so wrapped up in our volume macrocosms that we forget there’s a real world with real, physically present people to interact with.Sleep. Sleep late if you can. Don’t provided your alarm. Even if just for a nighttime or two. Take an afternoon siestum( or seven ). Your brain is tired. It’s been departing nonstop for a long time. Too long. It needs remain. It wants to enjoy itself again. It wants to remember what it’s like to be carefree. If you demonstrate it what it needs, it will start dreaming again.

When you come to the end of the week, take your literary heartbeat. How do you feel? Did you miss the writing? Did any magnificent thoughts come to you when you hiked through the groves or whipped up those egg-and-bacon breakfast tacos everyone loved? Are you glad the week is ending so you can get back to work? If not, consider taking another week to decompress.

It’s absurd to fire on all cylinders all the time, so dedicate some of your writing time to stoke the sparks of clevernes.( Here’s advice from Bonnie Neubauer and Rosalie Morales Kearns .) And experience some downtime every once in a while so you can rise like a phoenix, refreshed.

Read more: janefriedman.com