Although some penmen and penwomen ignore the perils of the reasons why you shouldn’t write when you are tired, it is certainly true that fatigue negative impacts the quality of writing. Many writers may be trapped under looming deadlines or strict contractual obligations, feeling as though they have no choice but to work long late-night hours, often as a side gig in addition to an existing job, even full-time.
Even if the occasional all-nighter is necessary or at least difficult to avoid, it may be beneficial to at least be aware of the potential pitfalls of writing while under the influence of, well, simply being tired. No matter whether it is after a long day at work, worked around a harsh round of family responsibilities, or otherwise bundled up in a ragged ball buried under the reality of an already over-stressed lifestyle, the following are a few of the more prominent reasons why you shouldn’t write when you are tired.
Just as performing any other operation, such as working with heavy machinery, driving down the highway on a long road trip, babysitting several crazy toddlers, teaching a class of unruly uninterested students, or playing in a big playoff game, writing is an activity that is best done when your body is refreshed and ready, full of energy and having had sufficient rest. Once the effects of fatigue set in, one of the reasons why you shouldn’t write when you are tired is that when your brain is having difficult staying awake, you begin to make poorer and less imaginative word choices, you are much more likely to make typos and other mistakes, and your overall work will diminish in impact. If you are in a situation when you are competing with other writers for a sought-after, high-paying article job, it may be wise to take a break, take a nap, or even outright get some sleep and finish in the early morning rather than continue late at night.
Tire pressure tests rely on the fact of physics that air will exit faster (and thus with more force) from a tire filled with air at the maximum extent than if it has less air in it to push. This principle, that simply having more fuel results in more power, stands true for humans as well: If you are well-rested and properly energetic, you can gladly and positively pump out plenty of quality content. However, when working with tiredness on your side, not only will you slow down physically and literally, but your mental and emotional states will begin to erode as well, and make it more difficult to have the proper, optimistic mindset to keep churning out pieces without complaint. Though some people thrive under stress and pressure, in general, it is best to avoid being a grumpy writer and figure out what your stopping point is. At the very least, it can be useful to identify your slowdown threshold.
One of the real reasons why you shouldn’t write when you are tired is that one of the first consequences of being tired is the erosion of short-term memory. When working on a job with particular guidelines and specifications, this can have disastrous results. Was I supposed to write for search engine optimization? What were my keywords again? Wait, did I already use that exact phrase earlier in the previous paragraph? When the difference between landing a payment and being discarded to the rejection pile is a lapse in memory, it may be prudent to keep energy level in mind and avoid getting too tired to begin with.
Though there are doubtlessly other reasons why you shouldn’t write when you are tired, these are the significant ones, and the ones that can make the difference between landing a great contract and being frowned upon by publishing peers. In the end, when all elements are considered, it may be as important for a writer to learn his or her personal energy rhythms than as to maintain a sharpened vocabulary.