These past few days had been grueling for me. I did what so many freelance writers do: I took on too much work and am now paying the price for it. For those of you out there who think that writing isn’t hard work, think again. There is a reason why everybody is not a writer! Some people are actually more clever than that.
So I took on a freelance writing gig that didn’t pay too well. But since they were only going to send me work that should keep me busy about two hours a day, I didn’t mind. I could still take on other, better paying jobs to fill up the rest of my day as well as my pocket. Was I wrong!
I’m one of those people who really struggle saying no. So when the work started streaming in, I thought I could tough it out and just kept writing. Two hours became six, then six became eight. Meanwhile, because I have bills to pay, I still kept up with my other, better paying assignments as well. I ended up writing at least twelve hours a day. Some days I didn’t even allow myself a break to have lunch.
Soon, not only my mind but also my body started paying the price. I did not make time for exercise anymore, so I was stuck in front of my computer all day, typing away. I started waking up in the morning, my body tired and aching. And my mind started feeling numb, churning out senseless words that made less sense to me than a speech in the Japanese Parliament. I had hit a wall, ran out of steam and had nothing more to give.
I came upon an article written by Cinthia Ritchie about hitting a wall in a marathon. She compared it to hitting that writing wall. Her article had some great advice that I solemnly vow to follow. One that she didn’t mention but that I’m going to try, is to start saying no when people start treating me like a writing mill who can just churn out words on demand. I’m a writer and I’m good at it. But to be able to do it, I need to treat myself, my body and my mind with more respect.
Here are some of the tips Cinthia gave in her article for writers who have hit the wall:
- Find a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
- Prepare for you writing by doing proper research.
- Write even when you don’t feel like it. Writing is hard work and some days it is just work.
- Break into new markets by attending conferences, cold calling, etc.
- Fuel your writing with the right balance.
- Halfway through you will hit a wall and run out of ideas, quotes and things to say. Suck it up and keep writing.
- Finish strong. Strive to finish your writing with a burst of lyricism.
- Take time to recover. Take a walk, read a book or make time for lunch with a friend.
I have no burst of lyricism to finish off with but I leave you with this thought: whatever you do, make time to feed your mind, your body and your soul. After all, you are only human.