Just last night, I arrived back home from the Middle East, where I was working for the last two weeks. I traveled over 7,400 miles over thirty-two hours, and honestly, I'm exhausted.

write when tired

Photo by Umberto Salvagnin (Creative Commons)

However, I also have a lot of writing to do. I'm working on a new ghostwriting project with someone who has been doing conflict resolution work in the Middle East for over twenty-five years. Deadlines are fast approaching, and I don't have much time to rest.

How do you write when you're tired? How do you focus when you really just want to take a break?

“I Don't Feel Like Writing”

What do you do when you just don't feel like writing? You know you should be writing, but when you think about actually doing it, you start thinking about all the other things you'd rather do (e.g. play another round of Candy Crush, scroll mindlessly through Facebook, eat Elmer's glue).

One way to handle this is to say to yourself, “Just do the work, darn it! Push through. It doesn't matter if you don't want to write. Do it anyway!”

While this approach does work sometimes, it can also develop an inner resentment against your work that can actually lead you to be even more unproductive later on.

Another way to deal with this is to slow down, take a deep breath, and connect with your shadow.

The Shadow's Secret to Restful Work

I've talked about your shadow several times on this blog (here's an introduction to the concept of the shadow and here's a longer discussion about how to write a book with your shadow's help). I find that the idea of the shadow is one of the best ways to think more creatively.

As I was struggling to summon the will to write, I began talking to my inner shadow. I asked it questions, like, “What do you want to write about? How are you feeling about this? What would make you happy?” 

Almost instantly, I started to think about new ideas to write about, topics that excited me, that made me actually want to write despite my lack of willpower.

And within just a few minutes, I was not only writing, I was enjoying myself.

Finding the Willpower to Write When You're Tired

When you're too tired to write, you usually take one of two options:

  • Procrastinate and avoid writing
  • Bully yourself into it

Both of these options are less than helpful.

Instead, try tuning in to your inner shadow. Ask the following questions:

  • How are you feeling about this?
  • What do you want to write about?
  • What will make this more interesting to you?

These questions will often unlock a new, creative path for your writing to take, and more importantly, you'll almost always have more energy to write than if you try to bully yourself into writing what you're supposed to be writing about.

Do you think this would work for you? How do you get yourself to write when you're tired?


Talk to your inner shadow and ask a few of the questions listed above, especially, “What do you want to write about.” What does your shadow say? After you listen to your shadow, start your timer and write for fifteen minutes.

When you're time is up, copy and paste your practice into the comments section of this post to get feedback. And if you share your practice in the comments section, please be sure to give feedback on a few pieces by other writers.

Have fun writing!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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