Today I am so tired that I am on the verge of tears for no reason at all. Why am I tired, you ask? Because I have been staying up until 1 a.m. trying to squeeze more writing time into my day. Not just once or twice, but for weeks now. How is that working out, you ask?

*bursts into tears*

Needless to say, something’s gotta give, and it ain’t gonna be sleep. Not anymore. My physical and emotional wellbeing simply can’t tolerate this. Which makes me feel like total weaksauce, by the way. But it is what it is, and I am who I am.

So. What now? I think, like learning to embrace my inner turtle, I am going to have to learn to listen to my mind and my body, to treat them well so that they can perform at their best. I mean, staying up an extra 2 hours doesn’t do me any good if all I can do is yawn, squint at my screen, and produce nothing but typos.

This puts me back at square one: self-discipline. Maybe it’s not about more hours in the day, maybe it’s about better use of the hours I have. Maybe I should spend less time commenting on blogs, and more time writing. Maybe I should do yoga while I watch TV, instead of sitting on the couch like a bump on a log. Maybe I should eat fruit instead of chocolate. Maybe I should play piano again.

I don’t know for sure if doing these things will help me to focus and to endure the (surprising) physical strains of sitting at the computer so long. But I believe they will. I believe that when we take care of ourselves, we become stronger, more capable, invigorated. I believe that I may have been going about this the wrong way (for me), and that I need to trust my instincts when they tell me to change course. I believe that I can achieve this dream, and soon. I believe that it’s okay to stumble, as long as you brush it off and keep on going.

So my knees are scraped up, I’m covered in sweat, and I’m thirsty as hell. But I can see that finish line, and damn if I’m going down now.

29 responses to “Stumble”

  1. Angela A Avatar

    Very encouraging post. Keep with it :)

  2. Natalie Whipple Avatar

    I am not a night owl either. My writing is terrible at night. Like, terrible. After 10pm, I’m utterly hopeless.

    That means I have a couple hours during a dwindling naptime, or the option of ignoring hubby for the two hours after the kids are in bed.

    It’s not easy, but you gotta make the most of that time like you said. I turn off the internet, the music, everything and tell myself I can turn it on again when I’ve finished my goal. Amazingly motivating.

  3. Adam Avatar

    If you can afford to experiment, see how much more efficient you are with 10 hours of sleep each night for a week or two. Or you could try what I did last fall, and add naps to what you are doing now. You’ll be 80 years old and looking for the early bird special in no time with that method.

    BTW, what is commentluv?

  4. Sonja Avatar

    Sorry to hear you’ve been having such a hard time. Some things can be forced and some things can’t. I’ve always been of the opinion that creative efforts, with few exceptions, belong to the latter category.

  5. Aurora Avatar

    if you need a couple extra hours in the day, why are you even watching TV?


  6. Les Avatar

    Sounds like we’re on the same page… no worries, you’ll definitely get there! It really is about efficient use of time. I sit on the laptop and watch TV when I should be writing or coding. When I write, I make myself turn off the internet. When I code, I now make myself go into a room with no TV.

  7. Rachele Alpine Avatar

    I feel for you Kristan, I have these feelings a lot, especially during the school year. I find it so hard to be both a good teacher and a good writer. You feel like you compromise things for something else, which sometimes leaves you feel inadequate in both areas.

    I know how hard you have been working at getting your book ready for the publishers, so I understand your frustration. I’m cheering for you! :) It’ll work out…it always somehow does…and in the meantime, feel free to vent to me!

  8. Kristan Avatar

    Angela A-
    Thanks! I will try, hahaha.

    Yeah, I think the internet is the big thing. And this is so stupid, but closing the program vs. just trying to “ignore” it makes such a big difference for me. So, to your point, I wonder how much better I’d do turning it off altogether…

    Mmm, 10 hrs… I’m salivating! I can probably afford to experiment with sleep stuff after I turn in my 20SW proposal.

    CommentLuv is a script that will automatically link to your latest blog post if you enter a URL when you comment.

    Hehe. Well, we are of *slightly* different minds on this one. I think you’re right, there are a lot of things about creativity that can’t be *forced*, per se. But I think there are good habits for creativity that can be cultivated, and that’s what I’m working on.

    However, I did push my body too hard/too far on this one. Gonna have to recoup.

    LOL is that supposed to be… a heart? Or something else?

    LOL. Well I only watch 2-3 hours of TV a week, and I think everyone deserves to unwind a bit. The internet is the real devil, for me.

    “When I write, I make myself turn off the internet.”

    Ohhh is that what you’re supposed to do? Because I just keep waiting/hoping the internet will turn itself off, so I don’t have to use any willpower/self-discipline. Doh.

    (No, I’m not really kidding. Just laughing at how much smarter you are than me.)


  9. T.S. Bazelli Avatar

    I’m a 9 hours a night kind of gal. I discovered a long time ago that sleep’s the one thing I can’t afford to cut, so I had to cut out other things. I turn into a complete grump, and I can’t concentrate if I don’t get enough rest. Taking care of yourself should be a priority. You can do it!

  10. J. P. Cabit Avatar

    Oh my, Kristan! You sound like I used to be… :-( (sad face remembering former glory…) I used to stay up till like eleven at night writing. Now, catch me noveling at all. Fail.

    And yes, I’m the same way…my tagline is, “When is it time to go to bed? When there’s nothing else to do!”

    Just look at me. Blogsurfing at ten thirty at night. I should be sleeping. Erg.

  11. Meghan Avatar

    It sounds like you’re on the right track!! I’m going through the same thing (I’ve only been working mornings for a few weeks, and I’m learning I CANNOT WRITE ALL NIGHT LONG and stay sane!).

    Keep plugging along! :)

  12. Aisha Avatar

    Yeah a lot of us are in the same boat, unfortunately. I know you have a self-imposed deadline for 20SW, but nothing beats a REAL deadline (unfortunately in your case you can’t get that.)

    For me it helps to put things on a list, and be able to cross them off. You could put “1. Eat a peach 2. Do 20 minutes of yoga.” And of course, once you start getting in the swing of things it gets easier.

    It’s harder to measure things like fixing up your writing, I mean you could dedicate an hour to it and still come up with little to nothing. Coffee sometimes helps me be a little more creative and motivated, but it also prevents me from sleeping before 4am (usually later!)

    Good luck, let us know what helps you when you find it :)

  13. elissa janine Avatar

    Kristan, I totally relate to this post! I do my best writing at night, after everyone has gone to bed, and I know exactly how tempting it can be to stay up waaayyyy too late on a roll with writing for wayyy too long! It makes me irritable, to say the least! what I do find is when I make a point to include healthy things–working out and getting sleep–I am naturally more productive and energized.

    Good luck, and be good to yourself!

  14. krista Avatar

    Love this post! You’re doing great, I’m sure. Keep it up!

  15. Pseudo Avatar

    It’s all a part of the process….even finding our timing….

  16. Sarah Avatar

    No, you’re not going down! But, yeah, maybe find a happier middle ground where you’re not doing yourself in (physically). Keep going, you’re nearly there. xx

  17. DL Hammons Avatar

    As you said, embrace your inner-turtle. Don’t be in such a hurry. Attempting to cram in time to write only produces less than acceptable writing. You are on the right track and the fact you wrote this post at all shows you see the problem. Everything in its own time! :)

  18. Kristan Avatar

    9 hrs? Niiice! My body starts waking me up after about 8.

    Hehe, well apparently this kind of “glory” isn’t sustainable anyway. No worries.

    Thanks! Yeah, sanity is pretty key, huh?

    Yeah I did a coffee experiment and it failed, because (a) it only helped a bit, and (b) I didn’t enjoy the taste. Plus, at the end of the day, I believe in listening to my body. If it needs something, like sleep, I’m gonna give it that. And to do it, I’m going to sacrifice internet time *gasp!*

    elissa janine-
    Working out *and* getting sleep? Hehe, I’m gonna go for the latter first. 1 out of 2 ain’t bad, right? Once I get sleep down, I’ll work exercise into the mix…

    Thanks, girl!

    Yep. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the process, but I find I’m usually happier when I embrace it than when I try to change or subvert it.

    Thanks, girl! You too. ;)

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  19. Bronnie Avatar

    Aww you poor thing!
    It definitely sounds like you need some rest, and maybe structure?

    I find a bit of organisation and mini-goal setting gets me through… or a quick 20-30 min walk outside to clear your head.

    keep your chin up! :)

  20. Jon Avatar

    “So my knees are scraped up, I’m covered in sweat, and I’m thirsty as hell. But I can see that finish line, and damn if I’m going down now.”

    I love those last two sentences. I know you have the endurance to keep going on this race–do you use the weekends? That’s my go-to for making up writing time, although recently I haven’t been successful in that regard.

  21. Kristan Avatar

    Rest, most definitely! I’m feeling better now. Structure? Sigh. Yes, that too. I’m less excited about that part of it, though.

    Mini-goals and walks are great ideas! Sometimes I *know* what I should do, it’s just a matter of making myself do it, you know?

    Thanks. :) I do use weekends, typically — I love writing, so why not do it 7 days a week? — but this weekend I gave myself a HUGE break and just read and relaxed.

  22. Inara Scott Avatar

    Ah Kristan, I know exactly where you’re at!! I definitely had to give up all other “hobbies” (and by hobbies I mean anything other than writing, working the day job, and spending an hour or two a day with my family). But do make time for exercise (yay yoga!) if you can — sometimes I think that’s the most important thing you can do.

    Be gentle with yourself, too. Know that you are only human and get to start fresh every day.

  23. Kristan Avatar

    “Be gentle with yourself, too. Know that you are only human and get to start fresh every day.”

    I love love love that. Thank you for the encouragement!

  24. Amanda Kendle Avatar

    Just have to take issue with this:
    “Maybe I should eat fruit instead of chocolate.”
    NOOOOO!!! I don’t mind if you add fruit to your chocolate diet but don’t give up chocolate. You won’t be able to write a word.

  25. Kristan Avatar

    LOL okay, how about “more fruit, less chocolate”? (That’s what I’ve been doing in reality anyway…)

  26. Frank Denbow Avatar

    I feel you on this Kristan. I consistently work from 7pm (when i get home from work) to 3 (or 4 or 5 or…. until i go into work the next day) on startup projects. You struggle through the self-doubt, the discouragement of others, the overwhelming difficulty of the task at hand, and the fear of walking down a path to nowhere. I sometimes wonder if it is worth it, but the dream I chase is one that keeps me going. There is an inkling inside that maybe, one of these things might be able to sustain me, and I can work on things that I am truly passionate about. So I sacrifice for the time being with the hope that these inklings are steeped in truth.

    You have talent and drive. Your work will be seen and at some point you will have the time finally to pursue your passion to the fullest. Be still knowing that many others believe in you and your abilities. Keep working Kristan!

  27. Kristan Avatar

    Ouch, Frank, that’s a rough schedule!

    But yeah, all those things are exactly what I feel too. Thanks for the encouragement. It means a lot to me. :)

    We’ll get there, Frank. We’ll get there!

  28. Meghan Ward Avatar

    Kristan, you are one of the most determined writers I know, but you need to take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep is really important, so I agree that the better way to go would be to cut down on Internet/TV, etc. Sounds like you’ve already made those changes (since I’m late in commenting). Woo hoo!