You know what? I’m just exhausted. I was trying to come up with a good topic for this week, I’ve been beating my brain, but the truth is that for most of the last year, I’ve barely worked. I just started back to full time writing a week or so ago and I’m so, so tired. Regardless of what anybody may have told you, writing is actually a lot of work.
It might not be a lot of work in the same way that hauling lumber at a lumber yard is, or building a railroad is, or driving around all day chasing ambulances is, but it takes a lot out of the gray matter. Sometimes it makes it hard to sleep, especially when there’s been too much information intake and no good place to let it wander free.
What Do You Do With an Exhausted Writer?
You can tell a writer who is exhausted by the errors they make. Especially seasoned writers. The dumber the mistakes, the more tired they almost certainly are. The more painfully stupid the writing, the more painfully exhausted the writer.
For some assignments, being a bit punch drunk can work in your favor. For example, I recently started with a publication that enjoys a lot of levity to be sprinkled in articles. This works out well for me because the more tired I get, the more dumb jokes I tell. To a point. Today, right in this moment, I’m so tired that I can’t even summon up dumb jokes.
Getting back into the groove has been a challenge for me. Since COVID started and before this new job, I was working upwards of about 10 hours a month, which isn’t a lot… it allowed my stupid gray matter to get all flabby and chunk-a-riffic. I assume that, like my flabby and chunk-a-riffic body, my brain will snap back into shape if I just keep at it and try to give it enough rest while it goes through the process of trying to tear itself apart.
But right now, it’s goddamn tedious. I can barely stay awake some days. Other days I’m making incredibly bad financial decisions because After Dark Kristi has taken the wheel. (If you aren’t familiar with After Dark Kristi, check out my Facebook account, where I have been regaling my followers with tales of her many stupid purchases… once in 2020 she filled the weekly grocery order with nothing but Tate’s Bake Shop cookies)
Despite it all, I’m somehow muddling through. And since so many of you are still trying to get back to work, and get your kids back into the groove, I thought I’d talk about what it is that I’m doing to try to sort out my shit.
Safeguarding Against Your *ahem* Better Nature
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume you actually know yourself a bit. I mean, it is truly an assumption because some people really don’t. Some people think they do, but they get left alone in a room with themselves and it’s nothing but endless small talk about the weather. If this is you, you have some work to do before you can complete the stuff I’m laying out, because you really should know yourself well enough to plan around your many lovely quirks.
I know that I’m a compulsive spender when I’m under severe stress. I also know that I tend to buy really stupid things, so it’s not even productive spending. Do I need ten gallons of chocolate pudding delivered in a small cement mixer? OF COURSE I DO! *click*
These are the stupid things I do. Because I am, in fact, stupid.
But I’m getting smarter. I’ve found ways to boobytrap myself so that After Dark Kristi doesn’t do quite so many stupid things to herself. There are rules and protocols that I can generally get her to follow because she does tend to be a rules follower. More so than Daylight Kristi is, if we’re being honest.
So I have some tricks to help reduce her ability to make stupid decisions without me.
- Always get a second opinion. When After Dark Kristi is active, you may find yourself getting a random message from me asking you if you think that six hundred copper beads is a good investment. Or if it makes sense to go bungee jumping off a whale. These are questions reserved for my innermost circle, because they’re the only ones who really understand what a pain in my ass After Dark Kristi is and are willing to supervise. They’ve been instructed to deny her every request and not enable purchase that sound like a 12 year old millionaire would make.
- Put stumbling blocks in place. For me, it’s usually bad decisions that involve money. This one must be pretty common, because there are lots of tools to help slow down this behavior, including basic stuff like PINs for purchases, and, my favorite, a delay in shipping on Amazon so I can review any purchases in the morning and cancel them. If your After Dark behavior is something harder to train out, like eating cookies until you’re sick, you may have to just not buy cookies when you know you’re going into a rough spell. Make it easy for yourself to succeed by making it hard for the behavior to take place.
- Have a checklist. On the off-chance that After Dark Kristi is able to overcome my boobytraps, I have a checklist for her. Usually she consults it. Usually. Because, as I mentioned above, she’s a rules follower, so I give her rules. There are rules like no clicking “buy” after 8 PM, and being certain that you’ve got a purpose for the purchase before you make it (at least this way, there’s a shopping task completed, however oddly it may turn out). She’s got a long checklist, and the maze it creates generally keeps her busy until she passes out.
- Sit on final decisions. Sometimes I can’t cage the tiger, no matter what I do, but I can usually get her to leave a chosen item in a digital shopping cart until Daytime Kristi can review it. Sometimes After Dark Kristi actually makes some good calls, and I let the transaction proceed. Sometimes she puts $100 worth of licorice in a shopping cart and I have to give her that look. The whole “you need to eat more vegetables” look. You know the one.
It might not be glamorous, this job, but it also doesn’t pay all that well, so I’ve got that going for me. This week, like last week, I’m so flipping exhausted I can barely stand and am making a lot of poor decisions in my personal life. I literally am not 100% sure what day it is, and not in that cute jokey “COVID Days” way.
I also know this will be over sooner than I think right now. It always is.
I get this same way when I start running again after an injury or a long cold ass winter. I fight the fog for a couple of weeks, then I’m out the other end. Today is a foggy day because my brain is exhausted. But it’ll come back totally bloody ripped and then we can really get with the program.