This article originally appeared on Ravishly.
The Writer’s Struggle: A Peek Inside The Quest To Get My Brain Back
We’ve all been there, writer or not. Burnt-out, blank, and bitter. I spend hours staring at the screen, doodling on paper meant for jotting notes, and wondering what I am going to have to do for the rest of my life now that my brain refuses to work anymore.
There comes a point in every writer’s life when their brain just refuses to work.
At one point, we remember fondly, it worked like a well-oiled machine. You asked it to come up with brilliant writing ideas, and boom, out came a dozen A+ titles and ideas. Words made sense when you put them together to form coherent sentences, and your thoughts rolled off the page in a cascade of intellectual brilliance, leading your readers down beautifully landscaped rabbit trails and into a field of dreams fulfilled.
Unfortunately, after being A+ quality for enough time, the poor ol’ brain just gives up the ghost. No more brilliant ideas. No more quirky, funny idioms to follow along a riveting tale of life that brings tears to your readers’ eyes.
It could. It did. But it doesn’t.
My brain refuses to work anymore.
We’ve all been there, writer or not. Burnt-out, blank, and bitter. I spend hours staring at the screen, doodling on paper meant for jotting notes, and wondering what I am going to have to do for the rest of my life now that my brain refuses to work anymore. I have even tried quick dates with your brain, hoping to jumpstart it back into its usual, fun-loving self! I tried taking it on a quick lunch date at Taco Bell, but it brought along the voice of my old Creative Writing professor (who is never invited). I tried taking an evening stroll, but it just reminded me how out of shape I am, since my profession is basically sitting and not moving for a really long time. Once, I even tried to get a smile out of poor old Brain after I took her out for sushi by putting chopsticks under my lips and pretending to be a walrus. Somehow, this avenue didn’t work either.
Nothing seemed to work.
But I persevered, and I am here to share with you my brain-boosting secrets.
Have no fear, my weary, brain-dead friends: It is on this day when you must find your well-functioning hands. Get to work at serenading your poor, tired, weary brain — Romance her back into your life.
Lightbulb! 4 Brilliant Ideas For Revitalizing Your Brain, From A Writer’s Perspective:
1. Ice Breaker
You have been holding it all in for a while . . . it is time to let it out.
It’s time to have a heart-to-heart (brain-to-brain?) with your headspace. Let it know how you’re feeling:
“I feel like I am the only one working on our projects, and I think the balance in work is completely unfair. I know I have not been the greatest listener for you, and you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I am throwing at you. But when you clam up like this, it makes me think that you don’t even want to do this anymore. And that hurts me. I don’t want to go back into real estate — we both wanted to be a writer, remember?”
This is how the healing begins.
Now that you’ve said your piece, listen to what your brain has to say. Your brain might tell you that even though the expectations for being a writer are on the table, what she hears is all the other things she has to do during the day as well. By the end of the night, she is so enveloped in planning, scheduling, and working that she can’t even think of a good, solid metaphor for how tired she is.
Don’t try to fix it. Yet. This is the time to listen to her side without dismissing what she has to say.
3. Body Language
Once you have finished listening to her side, it is time to do some body language analysis.
Your shoulders are tight, your back is sore, your legs are bouncy, and you have had a headache for five days — Motrin is just a placebo at this point. You won’t be able to think clearly until you start stretching, unwinding, massaging, and treating that headache. Do you need a better pillow? Or is it the fact that you have been drinking black coffee and Diet Coke for a few weeks, and completely forgotten where the water faucet is? Go hydrate yourself, eat a well balanced meal with protein and carbs, and get a pillow that supports your neck better so you won’t wake up with a crick in your shoulders every morning.
This is a perfect time for some physical relief: the batting cages, a solid bike ride, a lengthy swim, some rowing machine action, or a genuine stretching session will get your blood moving again, and it’ll get the kinks out of your joints.
Now limp your way to the bathroom and take a bath to soak those bad-attitude toxins out of your skin.
Remind yourself: Hemingway didn’t write everything perfect the first time, either. Austen had drafts and revisions, as well. The Brontë sisters were their own worst critics. You are peers amongst them all, and you can do this.
5. Wine Yourself Back Into Love
You are now ready for the wine. This is obviously the most important step.
Get a quiet room and light some tea candles on your desk. Fill your glass with wine and open your laptop. We are going to begin with one article, and only one article.
When we have finished that one, we can move on . . . but no pressure.
Chances are, at this point, you are damn ready to get back to it, and your fingers are only too eager to comply with your freshly-reinvigorated brain — which is back online! A pun! We have arrived!
Just keep the wine bottle close so you don’t have to get up too often.