I love planning ahead. It’s one of the finer points of scoring as an interchangeable INTJ and INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs test. So when my husband announced that he was going out of town for a few days, I planned my weekend. I would have a glass of wine and watch Jessica Jones on Friday. I would exercise Saturday morning and see one or two shows at the Dallas Comedy House that night, and then Sunday would be the day that I got some writing done for National Novel Writing Month, which I’m super behind on. Instead, I didn’t leave my bed all weekend.
I’ve been a fatigue artist for most of my adulthood. It’s a natural symptom of depression in addition to some other minor medical issues I have. So, when I take a nap, it’s not the 15- to 30-minute power nap that is preferable for human beings. I can engage in some heavy duty sleep two to four hours, and still get a decent eight hours of sleep that night.
What can I say? I’m a natural talent.
This is something that I’ve recently figured out is a problem. I’m someone who aspires to a creative lifestyle, someone who yearns to perform and write as much as time can possibly allow. And as much as I find sleeping in my nice warm bed enjoyable, I’m not measuring up to my full potential by allowing my weekends to get lost. The life of a two-toed sloth is appealing, but I am a bipedal mammal of complex thought who is not nearly as adorable as those fluffy, smiley sleepy-heads.
So the question becomes, “What can I do to get the most out of my day?” The go-to methods don’t really work for me. Caffeine? It’s just something I take with breakfast in the morning because it tastes good. Then I suffer the withdrawal headaches when I forget my cup of coffee the next morning. Exercise? I don’t so much get a rush of endorphins so much as my body responding, “Good job, three miles! You did it! That’s enough for one day, now you can’t use your brain any more and your eyelids are getting heavy. Go lie down.”
The best way I’ve handled this before—and continue doing on-again and off-again—is to treat at least half the weekend like I am going to work. The other half, I’m allowed to nap and recharge. I split this up in whatever feels comfortable for that weekend, which is usually half-days on both Saturday and Sunday. I guess that time could also be spent running errands, but I would much rather skip the grocery store and go to a cafe and write followed by a night seeing a stage show. Then I follow the rule of author John Scalzi: 1,000 words or four hours is the limit. Whichever comes first, that’s the stopping point. The reward is my head on a pillow, snuggled up next to my dog.
This attitude of staying away from home is a little easier when I’ve already spent eight or more hours at my day job. The weekend, though? It’s so hard to give up the weekends after pretending to be an adult for 40-plus hours. The perfect weekend often involves wearing your pyjamas all day and watching cartoons while eating Fruity Pebbles out of a Tupperware bowl. However, that’s only one or two hours of a morning for me. The rest is sleep. For a creative personality, REM sleep doesn’t fulfill that artistic need that I need to express. Sure, inspiration can be found in a dream. However, the act of writing down comes with the reality of the waking world. Plus, there’s a cup of coffee and a Tupperware of Fruity Pebbles waiting there. So go forth, arise, and feast upon the meal of the modern artist!
KC Ryan is currently a Level Three student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.