“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” ― Søren Kierkegaard , The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin
Today I finished a difficult work project. The culmination was six straight uninterrupted hours – from noon to six – staring at multiple computer monitors with spreadsheets, database reports, pages of notes, online forms and an ancient light-powered calculator in my palm.
What surprised me was how I felt when I finished. I felt like someone had hit me in the back of the head. I was tired, sure, but very dizzy and innervated.
Does thinking really take energy? Was my noggin out of oxygen? Does gray matter get worn out like a muscle?
At home I ate a little, stumbled into bed and fell into the sleep of the dead. For four hours.
“The challenge lies in knowing how to bring this sort of day to a close. His mind has been wound to a pitch of concentration by the interactions of the office. Now there are only silence and the flashing of the unset clock on the microwave. He feels as if he had been playing a computer game which remorselessly tested his reflexes, only to have its plug suddenly pulled from the wall. He is impatient and restless, but simultaneously exhausted and fragile. He is in no state to engage with anything significant. It is of course impossible to read, for a sincere book would demand not only time, but also a clear emotional lawn around the text in which associations and anxieties could emerge and be disentangled. He will perhaps only ever do one thing well in his life.
For this particular combination of tiredness and nervous energy, the sole workable solution is wine. Office civilisation could not be feasible without the hard take-offs and landings effected by coffee and alcohol.”
― Alain de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
I was looking forward to an easy day – especially since it was supposed to be my day off. But the phone calls kept rolling in, the emails kept coming, everybody wanted a piece of me. By the time I made it home… there was nothing left. Another day stolen by the man.
For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.
Today’s tip – Exhaustion
Source – On Writing, by Stephen King
The bigger deal was that, for the first time in my life, writing was hard. The problem was the teaching. I liked my coworkers and loved the kids – even the Beavis and Butt-Head types in Living with English could be interesting – but by most Friday afternoons I felt as if I’d spent the week with jumper cables clamped to my brain. If I ever came close to despairing about my future as a writer, it was then.
There are so many days that I plan on writing in the evenings, but as I stare at the terrifying blank screen I realize I am too exhausted to think, let alone write. I’m sure everyone that has to provide feels the same way.
I don’t have a solution, sorry. The only advice I can offer is to cheat – to find nooks and crannies of time where you can scribble before the day is wasted. Television is the enemy, too… I find if I even glance at the tube I’m not going to get any writing done – it sucks the ideas out and chews them to death.
What’s the old typical awful advice? — Oh yea, You are are going to have to buckle down. Buckle down? That’s not very useful, is it?
Unfortunately, I haven’t come across anything better.