Can you write when you’re tired?

If I write when I’m tired, often the work isn’t my best. Still, there will be some useful sections at the end of the day, or at least a good start for the next, though I’ll have to do more rewriting than usual. [Pages have to be extremely bad before I’ll discard them. Sometimes, lurking in the thought processes that led to them, there’s the germ of an idea worth recovering.]

Writing when you’re tired is difficult.  Decisions take energy, and writing involves constant decision-making. If you’re already tired, each word choice, each plot detail becomes a sack of cement to carry. So when I get tired, I stop wrestling bears and look for tiny wabbits: I go thru the m/s and catch typos, break long paragraphs, check punctuation–anything not involving decisions. This work will have to be done sooner or later, so it won’t be wasted time.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re not sitting at the glowing screen. Thinking is part of writing, and you don’t need a computer to think. [Yes, it’s true, I tell you!] Sometimes it’s best to just go sit under a tree (even an imaginary one) with a notebook and pen, and consider, for example: What is the hero likely to do when Nikolai Gromeck eventually appears in Act III? How many possible reactions can I list for that moment? Who should be in the gondola in the Venice scene? What kind of car should Damson Satsuma Greengage drive? No decisions, just brainstorming. The final selections can be made later. (Though a lot of times, I’ll wake up with the answers.)

Note: this was written in response to J. M. Payer’s post at http://jmpayer.com/2014/07/16/time-vs-energy-vs-words/

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