WFMAD DAY 8 – Exhaustimacated

I am beat. Whooped. Drained of all energy and intelligence. But it was SO worth it!

Yesterday I gave the closing keynote speech to 1300 people at the 40th SCBWI National Conference. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. Some of the best and brightest writers in our field had spoken over the previous three days, including Richard Peck, who somehow managed to surpass his usual eloquence and give hands-down the best speech I have ever heard him deliver.

(Lisa Yee’s blog has loads of pics of all the speakers at the conference.)

The speech went well, I think. After it I signed books for an hour or so with a bunch of other authors and illustrators. Then there was a party and a late dinner and you know what?

I have all the energy of a worm that’s been baking on a Dallas sidewalk for a week or so.

How can you find the focus or energy to write when you feel this exhaustimacated? (That word, btw, was made up by my husband.)

It’s hard, no question about it. And it creates a potentially negative situation, if you say things to yourself like, “I’m going to muscle through this and meet my writing goal for the day. Fatigue is not an option. I will not get out of this chair until I’ve written five pages, dammit….”

And then, after a couple hours or minutes of staring blankly at the screen whilst your Muse huddles in the corner and whimpers, you start yelling at yourself using really mean names and harsh words, and there is a very good chance you will eat a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream and wake up in seven hours from a sugar coma and feel even worse, if that’s possible, than when you started.

But it’s August. And you promised yourself you would write fifteen minutes every day. And like I said in my speech yesterday, “Discipline provides the canvas, inspiration supplies the paint. You create the art.” So what to do when you are this tired?

Ready… Set a timer for fifteen minutes. When the alarm goes off, if you are not feeling more energized and focused than when you started, stop writing immediately – even if you are in the middle of a word. Pat yourself on the back and take a well-deserved nap.

Set…“Your Muse is you, the very best creative, innocent, eager–to-grow part of you…You need to treat your Muse gently. Surround yourself with the kinds of things that engage your playful, creative side…Hold on to the magic and remember to have fun.” Laurie Halse Anderson (from my speech yesterday)

Today’s prompt: What smell reminds you of your favorite holiday? Start with the smell and move from that to the source of the smell and the room that you find it in. Write about the visual details and the room, then describe the people of the room; what they’re doing there, how you feel about them, what it will feel like when this moment ends.

Respond to the prompt above from the perspective of your character.

Scribble… Scribble… Scribble…

8 Replies to “WFMAD DAY 8 – Exhaustimacated”

  1. How can you be so inspiring when you’re that tired?
    This little post woke my muse with an adrenaline rush. Just the thing I needed to hear before going back into my wip to add setting.


  2. Thank you SO much for this post. I am totally exhaustimacated at the moment (love the word by the way) and your description of the muscling through writer person sounded just like me at times. I’m glad for WFMAD for helping me write and work through this ‘exhaustimacation’ whilst treating the Muse a little gentler, and not being so hard on myself.

  3. Your closing keynote was amazing and just what I needed to hear. I’ve been needing permission to disturb the universe for a while now, and you gave it to me. 🙂

    And the image of a four year old muse who, if you earned her trust, would whisper secrets in your ear was just PERFECT! Your sessions (and meeting you) were definitely highlights of the conference for me!

  4. Just finished reading SPEAK on a lark. I found myself out of books and was staying at a cool place on Oregon. It was on the shelf. One of those take a book/leave a book situations. I read it cold, no introductions to LHA, no history or recommendation. It blew me away. I couldn’t put it down. The folks I was with kept asking me about it. I hate for this to sound like fan mail because I am not that kind of guy. I don’t have crushes on famous people or idolize movie stars. But I am a writer and I want my students to be writers. Just found your blog. Very cool. I plan on giving that book to all my teacher friends. I’m sure that it has made a difference and that it will continue to. Now, off to the bookstore.

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