My work as a freelance writer requires a lot of thinking. Not only a lot of thinking, but a lot of thinking about a lot of different subjects. Research too. And then, after I’ve thought and researched and thought some more, I have to string together words to explain all that thinking and research in a way that might be interesting to other people.
I’ve cranked out a lot of work in the past few weeks, on topics ranging from authors to canoeing, psychology to Dolly Parton. My jobs range from blog posts (I contribute to four) to writing books to editing reports.
I’m not complaining. I enjoy my work and I’m lucky to have so much, and so much that is interesting.
But I am wondering: What actually happens when your brain gets tired? Is it physiological or…what?
Does your brain get more tired from having to think about a lot of different things, or when it has to concentrate for long periods of time on one thing?
Which is more exhausting, taking in information or putting it out? Do they exhaust the same parts of the brain or does taking in allow the putting-out side of the brain to rest, and vice versa?
For me, a tired brain actually kind of hurts, but it’s not like headache hurt. It almost feels congested; it’s a sort of dull ache.
I’ve been trying to write a post for this blog for days. I’ve gone through several ideas. I’ve read and thought and read some more, but every time I’ve started to write, my brain has smashed up against that wall of fatigue.
But none of them have worked. My brain still feels like it’s run a marathon on too little sleep.
Distraction also wears me out, and the Internet is nothing if not continual distraction. Internet blocking software keeps me offline when I really need to hunker down and work. But even that takes a level of self-control, and self-control can be exhausted if you exhaust yourself self controlling. Is an exhausted brain more exhausted by self control? Because sooner or later, I drift back online and end up piling more clutter onto my tired old brain.
I wanted to research this whole tired-brain concept, find out what it all means in order to write a thoughtful, enlightening post. So I knocked around in a couple of databases. But have you ever tried to read research papers with a tired brain? All those multisyllabic words, all that passive voice, all the statistics and hypotheses and noncommittal conclusions caused my brain to slump in my skull.
And so here I am, wringing out the last few coherent words left in my brain on this steamy Friday afternoon.
I’ll let you think about it all. If you figure it out, let me know.
Next week. Because my brain is taking the weekend off.