Friday, July 8, 2011

Running Out of Gas

I am a planner. If my family is going on a trip or if I’m making my daily commute to D.C., you can be sure my gas tank is filled with enough fuel to get me wherever I’m going.

This morning, like so many mornings, I saw a commuter stranded on the side of the road. No telling how long she’d been there or how she managed to get to a gas station and fill the five-gallon jug she was emptying into her tank with fuel.

Shaking my head, I told myself that will never be me. I don’t care how late I am for work or how fast I need to get somewhere; I will always take time to fill up.

Then my muse slapped me upside the head and said, “No you don’t, you idiot, think about how tired you are right now. You haven’t filled-up for months.”

Those may not have been the exact words of my muse, but they’re close. Slightly irritated by how right the idea was, I thought about myself and many of my writer friends for awhile.

A question popped into my head, it asked, “As writers do we get so excited, or worry about missing out on some self-imposed deadline that we ignore our basic human needs?”

I know how I would answer that question, and the time-stamps on many of my Tweets, Blog Posts, and Word work files prove it. I’ll spare you details of all the things I miss out on, save for one: sleep.

Midnight has become my new bedtime while five-thirty a.m. is still the time I have to wake up. Occasionally my husband mentions I’m like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. He compares my books and writing to “Precious” and my addiction and puffy eyes to that of Gollum’s.

After shooting an evil glare in my dear husband’s direction, I continue working on my precious . . . I mean my books without end and go to bed exhausted and wake up the same.

Wednesday I droned around work all day, bleary eyed and cranky and by the time I arrived home in the evening, was ready for bed. Guilt and indecision befuddled me and after writing only twenty words—and subsequently deleting all twenty—I’d decided bed was my best bet.

I ran out of gas.

From now on, I promise myself to be better. To work until I’m tired and not push past to reach the all consuming self-imposed deadlines. Well, I’ll try at least. Those types of promises are difficult to keep when words are flowing.

So how about you, Writer-Reading-My-Blog or Anyone-Who-Can-Relate, do you ever run out of gas?


  1. Great post Krystal!

    “My Precious” is a good way to describe our work. As writers that’s exactly what it is. What I go through I wouldn’t consider as running out of gas as much as it’s just a flat tire, a broken fan belt, a discouragement when I question my own writing talent. And, like most writers, I am my own worst critic. I’m my own Simon Cowell. “Writing is my only talent and I have to be good at it or I’m nothing” that voice inside my head says, and I take it to heart. As you and I have already discussed, everything I write has to be so perfect that I never get anything finished, and what I do finish has so many issues that I don’t see, like that dastardly evil tense issue, that I get discouraged that maybe I won’t learn the mechanics.

    Although, with all the discouragement, writing is more than a talent to me, it is my life. I couldn’t live a day without it just like sustenance or breathing. By sustenance I mean Twinkies, Krispy Kremes and Chocodiles. ;) But this is what keeps me writing … my love of it, writing friends like you who encourage and whack me with a stick when I lollygag, and the thrill of even one reader saying about my work … that was a really good read.


  2. Well said, Mel. And I'm still waiting on your blog post. Stop trying to make it perfect!

  3. Really great post Krystal.

    So true, sometimes we neglect our own engine. Very important that we take time to be filled. We are leaky vessels.

    Knowing what fills up is important. Knowing who fills us up even better. Thanks for sharing.

    Commenting and blogging in Seven Sentences

  4. Thanks for taking the time to come over and comment Geoff. I definitely get so sucked into the world I create and the rush to get it finished, I forget to take time to sleep or have fun outside my world.

    So glad to see I'm not alone!

  5. I quite often run out of gas. And with three kids and a job, that is not a hard thing to do. It is very difficult to pace ourselves and remember to take the time to take care of ourselves, too!

  6. Krystal! Awesome post! I totally get this post! I run a company for a friend and my wife is a manager for a large company. Last year, she begged me to quit my job and write full-time! Yeah? I know, really a partner who wants you to write for a living! I gave notice and the owners begged me to please not leave! They offered more money less time actual work time...reluctantly I stayed but I did get a lot of work done this way in my writing life...but then I had to return full-time recently and it seems no matter if I sleep 8 hours or 12 I'm still exhausted! My wife falls into bed at like 9pm...even on her days off. So I am not sure what the answer is...but when my head hits the pillow, I am in heaven.

  7. Oh, Cynthia thanks for taking the time to venture over and comment. Three kids, work, animals, etc is GRAND! BUT we do need rest. Look at me, it's 11:15 and I'm up writing away when in the morning we're heading up to Baltimore. Sigh. It never ends. At least I refueled a couple times this week.

  8. Thomas, I can relate. Pillow=Heaven I sleep wonderfully when I stay up later than I should. Some times when I hit the pillow early, I find I wake up early, too. ;-)

    So sorry to hear you are working full time again, but sounds like you have a supportive wife. Good for you!

  9. I have to say, Krystal, I think that's a really GOOD complaint to have. Think about all those authors who can't write, or complain about writer's block. Or think about all the times you longed to get away from it all, only to find on the second day away that you just HAD to write. After all, which is worse: having all these ideas but not having the time to write them, or having all the time in the world but nothing to write about? I know which I'd prefer. :-)

  10. I think we all run out of gas every now and then, ignoring the flashing light which tells u to refuel. Personally, I am not good with bounderies, which is probably why I end up having big long talks with myself, about a more balanced lifestyle. Writing is all consuming, eats into days and nights at times, but when it works, it is a joy to behold. Happy writing - brilliant post.

  11. I think I'm sitting on about a quarter-tank with the accelerator jammed to the floor. Thanks for reminding me that it's time for a fill-up!

  12. Great post Krystal.
    There were times it felt like I was running on empty. Stangely some of my best writing came out when I was feeling this way. Helped by copious amounts of Caffeine and Nicotine.


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