Way back when I was working on my first novel (while working full time and parenting two little ones), I had a day off and I was so excited to spend it working on my manuscript. My husband took the kiddos for the day and I headed to the coffee shop, but then the weirdest thing happened.
When I opened the document on my computer I had the sudden urge to vomit. Seriously. It was like morning sickness. I felt actually ill when I looked at it.
I had been pushing so hard, waking up at 5am every day to write for a little bit before the kids woke up and I had to get to work, and I was so tired. Frankly, the story felt like it was going nowhere and I just didn’t have it in me to work on it that day. I was burned out.
Burnout is real, and it can happen at any time with any project. The good news is that your story isn’t doomed. Over the past many years, I have learned (more than) a few coping mechanism to get myself through those tough patches.
If you’re experiencing burnout, here’s my advice:
- Take a break: Give yourself permission to step away from writing for a little while. For me this meant closing that file and opening the nascent outline of a new idea I was excited about (it would eventually become my second novel), but a break could mean engage in other activities that you enjoy and that help you relax and recharge. It could be reading, spending time in nature, pursuing a hobby, or simply taking a vacation. This break can provide the mental and emotional space needed to rejuvenate.
- Reflect on your writing goals: Take the time to reflect on your overall goals as a writer. Ask yourself why you started writing in the first place and what you hope to achieve. Reconnecting with your passion and purpose can help reignite your motivation and enthusiasm.
- Set realistic expectations: Sometimes burnout can stem from placing excessive pressure on yourself. It’s important to set realistic goals and expectations for your writing. Break down your larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. By focusing on achievable milestones, you can build momentum and regain a sense of accomplishment.
- Experiment with different writing approaches: If you’re feeling burned out, it may be helpful to explore new writing techniques or genres. Trying something different can reignite your creativity and make the writing process more enjoyable. Experiment with different styles, perspectives, or themes to inject freshness into your work.
- Seek support and feedback: Reach out to fellow writers, join writing groups or communities, or consider finding a mentor. Sharing your experiences and challenges with others who understand can provide valuable support and motivation. Additionally, receiving constructive feedback on your work can help you refine your skills and regain confidence.
- Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care practices to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and engage in activities that help you relax and unwind. Remember that taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity for sustained creativity.
- Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries around your writing time and space. Avoid overworking yourself and learn to say no to additional commitments that may drain your energy. Protecting your time and creating a conducive writing environment can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Revisit your writing process: Take a critical look at your writing routine and process. Are there any areas where you can make improvements? Experiment with different schedules, environments, or techniques to find what works best for you. Sometimes, making small adjustments to your writing process can help reinvigorate your creativity.
Remember that burnout is super common for writers and creative professionals. Be patient with yourself and give yourself the time and space needed to recover. By implementing these strategies and taking care of yourself, you can overcome burnout and rediscover your love for writing.
And as always, if you could use some support, book a time to chat with me. I work with writers in many different ways, and if the programs I offer aren’t a good fit, I will happily point you toward others. I’m here to help.