By James A. Rose – InstantPublisher
Stress and burnout can make it very difficult to accomplish your goals. James A. Rose outlines various ways to deal with writer burnout and help you get back on track.
Burnout is a major concern in many careers. Some causal factors seem to be excessive hours and unconventional stress on the mind or body. Some sources for this stress might be gruesome experiences common in law enforcement and military, sitting all day, a requirement for consistent creativity, and pretty much any type of customer service. What all of these situations have in common is the requirement of the worker to perform tasks for which the human body was not primarily designed. Unfortunately, these kinds of duties are common in modern society.
As a writer, you are probably subjected to abnormal stress levels from a number of elements. Long hours sitting – check; long hours starring at a screen – check; forced creativity and tough deadlines – check; and we all know you can’t rush the creative process, which is why eighty percent of what comes out of Hollywood is crap. Even if you write for personal reasons you may still struggle to make time for your writing amongst your busy schedule. Writer burnout can lead to poor work, depression and physical health problems.
The first step in overcoming writer burnout is to admit that it is affecting you. You are proud of your solid work ethic and that is fine but even Superman gets beat down on occasion. Tough love has always been the most help to me over the years in the form of “Quit whining”, “Semper Fi”, etc. Somehow being told that everything would be OK never helped me feel any better.
Having adopted that “tough it out” type of mentality at an early age meant it was difficult for me to admit when I had hit a wall and needed a serious break but I finally realized that if I continued without rest I would suffer irreparable damage. You have to let go of that guilt conditioning and give yourself permission to play for a while. Set a time limit. It can be two hours, two day or even two weeks, but eventually you must set everything aside and temporarily walk away.
Listen to your body. If you are having trouble maintaining endurance on a regular basis then you are likely exhausted at a core level. A good night’s sleep may not be enough. You may need to take a few days off to rest your mind. If your work sessions are a constant battle to keep going and your focus keeps switching on and off then you probably need either rest or a change of pace.
Sometimes switching to a different type of activity can be the best remedy. Change from a mental task to a physical task and that way you can still be productive. Sometimes your mind is just not into it and that is completely normal. When you hear about somebody that works sixteen hours a day or Donald Trump bragging about how he only sleeps four hours a night then you know that bragging is exactly what they are doing. Somebody may have a sixteen hour day by necessity but nobody works like that on a regular basis. They are building up their image for show. False bragging is the bane of social media. Comparing yourself to these unrealistic precedents can set you up for low self-esteem when you inevitably don’t measure up because no human can measure up.
Another way to beat burnout might simply be exercise. Your desk job and other responsibilities can easily hinder your priority on fitness. The human body is capable of workloads that would drop a horse. So it stands to reason that a complete lack of exercise will drop you. If you are neglecting fitness then stop now. Your life literally depends on it. I don’t just mean a slightly early grave. I mean that a lack of exercise is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your body. I would even go so far as to say it is worse than smoking.
Take time out to help other people. The residual positivity can boost your endorphins and subsequently your productivity. We understandably spend most of our time focusing on our own goals and needs but a redirected focus on those around us who are in need can help take you out of your head and provide a break from all the worry and stress.
Try socializing with other writers. The comradery and exchange of ideas will reinvigorate your drive and creativity. You will help them stay on track and they will help you. Your writer buddies can help you get over a hump that has been holding you up. Sometimes that kind of small roadblock can be the sole source of burnout. A little task can seem so insurmountable that it becomes a major cause for procrastination. Hanging out with other writers can also introduce a helpful dose of friendly competition into your life. Writing can be a lonely occupation and loneliness can kill motivation.
Maybe procrastination is exactly what you need. The problem is that you’re putting off the wrong task. Forget cleaning. Who cares if the house is a little messy? Tell your spouse to figure dinner out for his or her self. You’ll just have a nutrition bar. Your kids can open a can of soup. This writing assignment is a priority so treat it like one. Just keep your body healthy, the bills paid, and write.
This last tip is the most useful for me. Writing is fun, challenging and I wouldn’t trade it for anything but there is one key life element it lacks: adrenaline. Get away from the computer and go shoot some guns, ride a four wheeler, go skydiving, ride horses, or get on a rollercoaster. That first suggestion really does do wonders for me. When I’m burnt-out, I go to the range and unload about two hundred rounds. I leave feeling like a new man.
I hope these suggestions will help you conquer writer burnout. It really can’t be conquered though; it can only be managed. It is only a matter of time until it returns so learn to recognize it, admit you are experiencing it, let go of the guilt society has engrained within you, and go have some fun.
James A. Rose is a writer for InstantPublisher.com, a self-publishing company that specializes in transforming author dreams into reality. We have been providing exceptional and affordable service to writers for the past 15 years. No matter what type of book you want to create, Instant Publisher will be with you every step of the way to ensure the process is efficient and painless. We’re not happy until you’re happy.