What Can I Write When I’m Tired And Distracted?
The struggle is real.
It’s the beginning of the week, Monday afternoon. You had a nice weekend, but you slept strange hours and ate big meals. You feel tired and bloated, and your mind is skipping ahead with thoughts and plans for the week ahead.
Also, it’s hot. A humid, heavy day. It took all of your energy to just open the computer and start writing. Now you have a a few words on the page, isn’t that enough?
You deserve reward, a treat or a distraction. No.
You deserve punishment, you lack self-discipline.
You oscillate between the two modes of thinking, and when you check the clock you see that an hour has passed, with no written progress.
Your head hurts, and so does your self-esteem.
Your 3-step guide for writing on the slow days:
Step one: shake it out.
Pause here. Put on a song that makes you want to move. This is a good one: Purple Hat by Sofi Tukker
Turn on the music and step away from your computer. Yes, take your hands off the keyboard, stop scrolling with the mouse.
We’re going to shake it out for a few minutes. And if you don’t know what it means to ‘shake it out,’ don’t worry. It’s whatever it means to you — you can bounce, you can twist and shout, you can slowly sway. Stretch out your neck and shoulders, make some silly faces and move your jaw. Shake shake shake. You get the point. You could also watch this video on how your shaking practice will change everything.
If you are sitting somewhere public (a cafe, the library, at a friends’ party etc.), put on headphones and enjoy something with a beat. Let your inner dancer get funky.
I know you are still at your computer reading this. Click on a song of your choosing and Go!
~dancing shaking interlude~
Step two: Set a goal or an intention
Ah, paradox: The Freedom of Limitations.
One of the hardest parts of writing is the sheer possibility of what you can do — and the sense of unrealized potential. When we set a goal, we are giving ourselves a boundary or framework to work within. There’s a lot written about goal-setting elsewhere, so I won’t go deep in now. Suffice it to say: go for a SMART goal and keep it simple. Some examples are:
- Time limit (e.g. write uninterrupted for 25 minutes)
- Word limit (e.g. write 200 words)
- Action (e.g. publish a post — though when you are at 0%, this one can feel ambitious)
If you couldn’t tell from the name of my account, I like to write in 25-minutes intervals. I started to do this after reading about the Pomodoro method and use this app to help me break up tasks into twenty five minute intervals.
Another way to describe this step is to use the word ‘intention.’ What is the reason you are writing? Think of something that is true for you in this moment. It could be that you want to:
- practice the craft
- process an emotion or event
- articulate a thought
- promote a business
- procrastinate another activity, etc.
But taking a moment to get clear on your motivation will help you in your writing (and in moving past the inevitable resistance).
Step three: Write
And by this I mean: freewrite.
Remember: you’re tired, it’s hot, and just the fact of you showing up is a thing to celebrate. Let yourself write and enjoy what comes up. The editor can come out on another day.
If you aren’t familiar with free-writing, here are two suggestions for something to try:
- Morning Pages, or three pages written out longhand. It can be done anytime of day, what is important point is to keep your hands moving no matter what. You can even write the sentence ‘I don’t know what I’m writing,’ over and over again. This is a space to let your stream of consciousness go free — .
- Writing Prompt. You can find plenty of writing prompts on Medium (see the Creators Hub for ideas, or some publications like Found In My Journal have monthly prompts).
Get yourself a nice cup of tea, or ice, or whatever makes you happy. Chocolate is welcome too. And let’s get to it —
Good luck x