If all I do is write, why am I so tired? If all I do is write, why do I get so hungry?
This has been brought home to me as I’m recovering from a severe ear infection, and today, at the end of ten thousand words, I woke up, having fallen asleep in front of the computer. And it wasn’t that I was bored with the story – on the contrary. I kept writing way past the point where I felt a little tired and out of it because I was interested in the work.
What is so tiring about typing? How can sitting in front of the computer waggling my fingers tire the living daylights out of me?
And yet it does.
I first came across this effect when I was writing the Minoan fantasy (yes, yes, I do get that eventually I will have to rewrite that thing just to satisfy all y’all’s morbid curiosity.) After … many pages, bringing the thing to a close was a trial, particularly since my character had had so many walls dropped on him, he just sat in the middle of the pages like a passive-aggressive Job or perhaps an uncooked lump of dough, refusing to do much of anything. So I made it a point of finishing it in a month. For that month, I’d sit down after breakfast and write five thousand or so words. At which point I realized I was starving.
It got so bad that I – who hate pizza and who can cook – would forego the extra trouble of cooking, because I couldn’t concentrate on cooking while starving. For a month, I ordered a small pizza at noon every day and ate most of it before I could think again.
You see, those last few chapters (okay, fifteen or so) were the battle scenes. The worst day was after writing a scene where my heros (ten or so of them) cross a ravine by the force of their arms on a rope stretched across.
Since then, I’ve noted that effect many times. Trying to push on writing (and editing, being detail work is worse) while I’m sick or just recovering, or otherwise depleted is impossible. I know that I’ve sometimes had to rest or snack before I could write a big epic scene.
Now, I’ve done real work – hard work, under the sun, like planting potatoes with the aid only of an old fashioned hoe, or building decks, or even distance-hiking. And I’ve done intensely physical, boring work, like ironing for twelve hours a day. I can tell you right now that this writing stuff is easy, soft work, a gig done indoors and on a cushy chair.
And yet… and yet, the phsyical effects – the tiredness, the hunger, the occasional muscle pain are very real. Are they only psychological (is there such a thing as only psychological?) Or is there something more at work? There have been studies that seem to prove that you can increase your muscles by thinking of exercising, provided you think intensely and in detail about exercising.
Of course, to write action scenes, we have to think each action intensely and in detail. So it makes a certain amount of sense.
Does anyone else experience this? Or am I alone?
I’m taking my tired self to bed. Tomorrow I have more actions scenes to write. I just wish I knew if I’m insane (beyond the normal run of writers, that is) or truly, truly a weakling that I can’t recover from whatever the heck this was and write at the same time.