There’s Nothing More Frustrating for a Writer Than Feeling Too Exhausted to Write

Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

When it’s the end of a long day and there’s still more writing to do, you don’t always feel like it.

In fact, sometimes you’re so tired you’ve actually convinced yourself it can’t be done.

You obviously have two options here: write, or don’t. Persist, or don’t. Push through, or don’t.

But it’s so much more complicated than that, isn’t it?

Because it’s not that you DON’T want to write or that you DON’T want to put in the effort or that you DON’T care. It’s that, at least at this particular moment, you CAN’T.


Trust me. As often as I tell y’all to “just do the work anyway,” I get how difficult it actually is to put those words into practice sometimes. There are days I do not want to practice what I preach. I don’t want to sit down at 8pm and write even 500 more words. I am tired, everything hurts, I don’t feel like I have the energy left to stand it.

But I do it. I sit down and I write those words and I fall asleep satisfied. Why? Because I can rest better knowing I did what I had to do, no matter how much I did not want to do it at the time.

How? Well, this isn’t a nightly thing. I don’t put my writing off until the last minute seven days a week. That’s no way to live, and a terrible way to create. You’ll burn yourself out faster than you can blink if you think that’s a worthwhile strategy.

The truth? I give myself two, maybe three “late nights.” These are 12+ hour days I sometimes need in order to keep up with my personal and professional goals. But I’m also getting better at taking weekends off (OK, Sundays, at least). And for at least two weeknights, I clock out of work at the end of the day, sit on the couch with my dog, and don’t [try really hard not to] think about work.

Still. There will be those nights you just “have to.”

And how do you get through those nights? That’s really up to you. Maybe you throw on your noise-canceling headphones, maybe blast some music to drown out the world as you venture into another. Maybe you take two-minute dance party breaks every 30 minutes. Maybe you change into pajamas and fuzzy slippers before you travel the last stretch of your journey so you can do it comfortably.

Maybe all this is your reward when it’s all said and done.

I don’t know how you work best. I can’t speak to every one of you individually in one blog post. But I CAN tell you that doing the work, even when you’d rather not, is always worth it. It usually doesn’t feel that way (especially in the moment). And you’re going to have those moments you wish it didn’t have to be this way. And sure, it technically doesn’t have to be.

Being tired is normal. That doesn’t make it easy to deal with. But you have to figure out how regardless of whether you want to or not.

In the writing world, it’s those who persist through great challenges that eventually find their way to something better. Not easier. Just … more rewarding. In the end.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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6 thoughts on “There’s Nothing More Frustrating for a Writer Than Feeling Too Exhausted to Write

  1. Like you do at least once a week, perfect timing on this post! Day job had me in 3 hours before I usually roll up, and I was contemplating my NaNo project for tonight and how much umph I had in me. And my weekly blog/vlogpost, and…

    Forcing writing too much will make you dread it and start trying to avoid it. Giving yourself healthy rewards (or unhealthy ones) is helpful.

  2. Thanks for the great advice here! What you’ve said is an encouraging way to go about the process. It’s so easy to get frustrated as a writer whenever stuff happens to make writing regularly difficult.

    Thanks for the pep talk!

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