Writers Fatigue: How to stay sharp while writing

Writers Fatigue: How to stay sharp while writing

December 15, 2015

An image of a portable type writer

I consider myself a writer.

Certainly not a full time writer but one who has written many blog posts and articles along with 2 eBooks over the past 6 years.

My personal definition of a writer is basically anyone who sits down to write anything, whether that be a personal journal, fiction or non fiction blog posts and articles, training materials for the workplace or anything else.

Most writers I know talk about days when they're in the zone and spewing forth words at an incredible rate and also those days where they sit down only to bang their head against the table for an entire hour.

Now, putting all arguments about writers block aside for the moment, let's focus on fatigue and what you can do to reduce your head banging days and maximise your productive ones.

Here are 5 strategies that I find very useful for minimising fatigue and maximising focus when writing.

1. Stay hungry, stay focused

A hungry lion

This is a tricky one and varies slightly for each person but in general, do not try to write immediately after a big meal as you'll have less blood flow available for the brain while your body is working hard at digesting your meal.

I personally like to write after a small high fat snack such as a handful of nuts or a small bowl of full fat plain greek yoghurt with some cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Fat is brain fuel and it also helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable so that you're less likely to crash during your writing session.

I also find that writing while slightly hungry can be very effective but it depends on the person and if you do this for too long it can become a distraction rather than an advantage.

2. Caffeine: When, what and how

A Coffee Mug with an image of a stop watch on it

Many writers enjoy working in cafe's rather than the isolation and distraction of their own home.

Writing at a cafe typically means drinking a lot of coffee.

For me personally, when I write at a cafe I feel guilty if I don't order something at least every half an hour and normally end up drinking a lot of coffee, green tea and overpriced bottled water.

I recommend you order several things as a sign of respect and also to "pay rent" on the space you're taking up in the cafe while writing and just remember you'd be paying much more than this if you were to rent a desk for a day in a co working space.

Coffee can be a writers best friend and Voltaire famously consumed up to 50 cups per day when writing at his favourite cafes throughout Paris, the fact that he didn't die from caffeine poisoning makes me feel that it wasn't the strongest coffee but still, 50 cups of any strength is enough to drive most people insane.

Coffee is great but like most things in life, too much of a good thing often leads to problems.

Excess caffeine consumption will lead to anxiety and agitation for most people and this is not a productive state to be in when it comes to writing.

I've also found the time of day to be very important when it comes to consuming caffeine and I, along with many others, prefer drinks with a slightly lower caffeine content when writing in the afternoons.

My personal preferences are:

  • Coffee in the morning
  • Green tea after midday and
  • Yerba Mate in the late afternoon/early evening (Yerba mate is a delicious south american tea that contains three stimulants: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline and can create a lovely clear headed focused feeling when writing).

By sticking to this routine I'm able to get into the zone when writing but I'm also able to properly unwind in the evenings and get to sleep.

Everyone is different so experiment with different sources and see how you go.

3. Alcohol: Creative friend or foe?

3 glasses of red wine being poured

Ernest Hemingway once said: "Write drunk, edit sober".

I've personally produced a lot of good work while drinking red wine at night and would have to agree with this statement to a degree but it's not for everyone.

If you end up getting properly drunk it's likely you'll think you're writing a masterpiece only to wake up to the most incoherent, messy piece of writing you've ever done.

So rather than getting completely drunk, I recommend having 1 to 3 drinks to help put you in a more relaxed and creative state while you write.

Red wine is my weapon of choice and I recommend it for one main reason:

It's drier than most alcohols meaning less sugar, therefore you're less likely to crash during your writing session and there's also less chance of your blood sugar levels dropping too low while you sleep which can result in a feeling of grogginess and weakness when you wake up in the morning.

Also being lower in sugar content makes red wine the drink of choice for those who want to be able to enjoy a regular drink or two without having to worry about your waistline as much when compared to sweeter drinks such as white wine or beer.

One of my favourite authors Mr Tim Ferriss says he did most of his writing for his first book: The 4 Hour Workweek while consuming red wine and yerba mate together.

I've tried this and I really enjoyed it, for me it created an even longer lasting feeling of clear headed focus but remember that Yerba Mate does contain stimulants so be prepared to stay up a little later than usual.

4. Exercise: Timing is everything

80s style aerobics workout with comedians Key and Peele

Exercise can enhance your creative skills through increased oxygen levels in the blood which eventually flow to the brain and countless studies have shown that people who exercise regularly tend to have more brain power than those who don't.

That being said, trying to write immediately after exercise is usually a lost cause as so much of your blood flow is being sent to your muscles let alone the stress on your nervous system.

With this in mind I recommend you either exercise in the morning and write at night, or vice versa.

Another fun and effective strategy that I personally enjoy is the following:

If you're a coffee drinker, drink a double espresso 30 minutes before you exercise, as soon as you do this, begin writing flat out and as the time passes the caffeine will begin to kick in.

By the time you hit the 30 minute mark you'll be totally in the zone and ready to exercise.

5. Supplementation: Does it help?

A handful of pills

Remember that movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper?

Wouldn't it be great if we could take a pill like that and get into a state of hyper focus and extreme productivity on demand?

Interestingly there are in fact some "smart drugs" available which do offer a similar effect.

Unfortunately however, what goes up also comes down and these smart drugs do carry some risk.

I don't know about you, but as much as I enjoy the ups and downs of a caffeine fueled writing session I do not want to mess with pharmaceutical drugs on my quest for greater brain power.

If you're open to that, you can google "smart drugs" and begin your journey down the rabbit hole.

Otherwise if you're like me and would prefer something more natural with far less risk then you can do what I do and take the supplement I invented for people struggling to keep their focus, it's called ReVive and you can check it out here.:

---> ReVive focus and anti fatigue supplement

I invented it for a buddy and myself as we were both severely fatigued and overworked and were struggling hard to focus.

It's super exciting to finally be able to share it with others who are also struggling.

One more supplement I'll give an honorable mention to is a green superfood powder.

These are a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can help fill in any nutritional deficiencies you have and this in turn can help you fight fatigue and create better focus.

Most health food stores stock them and of course there are a lot of websites that sell them too, my one recommendation when choosing a green superfood supplement is this:

Watch out for fillers.

If you see substances such as "lecithin" listed as one of the first ingredients, you know you're getting a low quality supplement that contains mostly filler and only a small amount of actual nutrients.

And that's it for now.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions or tips of your own please share them in the comments section below.

Also, if you have any friends who you feel could benefit from this post be sure to share it with them too.

Until next time

Live with energy


Signature of Christian Baker the CEO and Co Founder of Upside Nutrition

Christian Baker the CEO and Co Founder of Upside Nutrition drinking an espresso

Christian Baker

CEO and Co Founder

Upside Nutrition


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