Although this is an article about ways to stay creative when you’re really tired, I’m going to have to talk about writing stuff for this blog for a paragraph or two. I know that this is about the sixth time that I’ve broken the “don’t blog about blogging” rule on here, but there’s kind of a reason for it. Sort of.
Anyway, I was originally going to write an article about realism in fiction for today, but since I was fairly tired at the time – I abandoned it after a few paragraphs. In addition to not feeling like I had the mental energy to think of a clear way to express my thoughts in words, I also found myself easily distracted by a website (“TV Tropes“, no less) that I’d planned to link to in the opening paragraph.
Whilst I might or might not have another go at writing that article in the near future, it gave me a few insights into how tiredness can affect creative work. So, I thought that I’d offer a few quick tips about how to stay creative when you’re extremely tired. And, for the sake of authenticity, I’m almost falling asleep whilst writing this. So, apologies in advance about the fact that this article includes a lot of….
1) Rambling: I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who tends to be kind of verbose. One of the billion reasons why I don’t use Twitter is because it would take me forever to edit whatever I want to say down to a mere 140 characters.
When it comes to writing, my “default” state is just to throw out lots of long words, old-fashioned words and/or complex sentences rather than carefully choosing just enough of them to get my point across succinctly.
This isn’t the case for everyone and many people’s “default” writing state is to use as few words as possible. But it doesn’t matter whether your “default” writing style is to write a 1000-word essay or a 140-character sentence, the important thing is that you know what your default state is, because that’s what you should use (and will probably use unconsciously anyway) when you’re tired.
So, in my case, this means writing three ridiculously formal paragraphs when one clearly-written paragraph would suffice. But, in your case, it might just mean using a minimalist writing style and/or drawing style.
2) Go with what you know: When you’re tired, you probably don’t have the energy and/or attention span to do lots of research and/or complex thought about unfamiliar topics. So, make it easy on yourself and just go with what you know. Not only that, go with the kinds of things that you know so well that you can literally draw, write about or talk about them in your sleep.
Why should you do this? Well, if you’re tired, then you’re almost asleep anyway – so this should be pretty self-explanatory.
3) Don’t edit: If you’re writing something when you’re tired, then the most important thing is to actually finish what you’re writing before you go to sleep. So, don’t bother with editing when you’re writing – unless you have a looming deadline of any kind, then you can always go back and edit your work later when you’re more awake.
The same is true, to a lesser extent, with art too. If you’re tired, then just focus on getting the basic “skeleton” of your picture down on the page and then adding everything else later when you’re more awake.
Usually, this will just be a basic pencil sketch or possibly even just the foreground of a drawing and/or painting, but it might also include things like inking (but not colouring) your art and/or leaving out all of the fine detail in your picture too.
4) Know when to take a break: Sometimes, some creative things are literally impossible to do when you’re tired. If you’re working on something that requires a lot of complex thought and/or fine detail, then trying to stick with it when you’re tired will just make you even more frustrated and exhausted.
If you start to realise that you’ve reached this point, then carrying on usually isn’t a good idea. In fact, the best idea is to just follow John C. Parkin’s wise advice and say “F**k it”.
Once you’ve done this, you can either do one of two things – you can just fall asleep or you can find a way to turn what you are working on into something more manageable. This might mean breaking it down in to smaller and more manageable segments or, like with this article, it might mean doing something entirely different instead.
Whatever you do, the important thing is to make sure that you aren’t just wearing yourself out even further by sticking with your original idea.
Sorry for the rambling article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂