Do You Suffer From “Creative Fatigue?”

No, that question isn’t a set-up in search of a punchline. It’s a very common writers’ problem. Here’s how Nathan Bransford looks at it:

some-old-creator-tvwby Nathan Bransford

I’m on record saying Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. There’s really no writing problem that can’t be solved by staring at a blinking cursor until you think of something.

But man do I get tired sometimes. This happened to me in the past month. I worked like crazy to get my guide to writing a novel finished and published and promoted just as I was starting a new job while still maintaining my commitment to make sure I’m getting enough time away from the computer and spending time with friends in person. It was a lot.

I got it done, I got it promoted, the job is going well, and then I had that thunk that sometimes happens when you work like crazy and wake up and realize you’re creatively exhausted.

I had to let the blog slide for a while, I took a break from writing even though I’m itching to get going on a new project, and I had to trust that I would get my creative juices back when some time passed and that there would still be people visiting the blog when I returned to it.

But then I think back to 2008, which was by far the most productive year of my life. I was working twelve hours a day as a literary agent, I was blogging five days a week, and I wrote a novel on top of that, which ended up being the start of the Jacob Wonderbar series. I have never gotten so much done in a single year, and it laid the groundwork for a lot of the things I look back on with pride.

And yet I was also really unhappy. I was neglecting friendships, I wasn’t feeling like myself, and I paid the price in many ways.

All of those tensions are so incredibly difficult to manage. Sometimes you have to push yourself to get things done. Sometimes you have to let things slide for the sake of your own happiness. Sometimes you have to stare at the blinking cursor until you think of something. Sometimes you have to know to step away.

I don’t think I’ll ever totally figure it out. All I know is I’m ready to get working again.

How do you figure out when to push forward and when to pull back?