Before I introduce the next guest poster to the Graceful Doe’s blog, I just want to let everyone know I haven’t forgotten about April’s Helpful Writing Sites post. I will be doing another combined post at the end of May. I would also like to thank everyone who has voted for my blog so far for the 2012 Best Australian Blogs People’s Choice award. There are just 5 days left to vote! If you would like to vote for my blog, just click the ‘vote for me’ link in the sidebar; my blog ‘The Graceful Doe’ is on page five of the voting form.
Now onto the next post in my guest post series. Freelance writer Jenny Ellis has some tips for dealing with something most writers face at some point: Writer burnout.
How to Deal with Burning Out on Writing
People have this common misconception that writer’s lead these whimsical lives where they sit in coffee shops and drink coffee all day while pondering life and staring intently at their laptops. The truth though? Writing for a living is no small feat. It’s hard to churn out content day in and day out and have each and every article come out worthy of being published. As a writer I can tell you that my life is less than whimsical and I spend an equal amount of time stressed out as I do drinking coffee and staring at my laptop (because let’s be honest, the coffee and laptop scenario does happen too). In fact, after weeks of writing day in and day out sometimes I get a little burned out and it becomes rather difficult to even think about writing another article or chapter or whatever I’m working on at the time. And while I think that burning out is nearly inevitable from time to time, I have found some tools for dealing with it:
- Switch to editing – Sometimes it’s the mere act of coming up with new content that has become a chore, and shifting gears and doing something else related to writing can be exactly the jolt that you need. Often times I find when I’m editing a piece that I’ve let sit for a while that once I start re-reading it I’m flooded with new ideas for how to change the piece into something better. Before I know it I’m re-writing entire sections with gusto instead of dreading penning any more words.
- Do something different – As writers I think we all tend to get wrapped up in projects and we become slaves to our laptops. I know I can spend hours staring at my laptop with unblinking eyes as I pore over new material, old material, and proof-reading. It’s usually when I start feeling burned out that I realize that I haven’t taken a genuine break from writing in a while. So I take a walk, I get outside, I call a friend, I just take a break to let my mind recharge a little. Allowing yourself to rejuvenate can do wonders.
- Write for fun – Amidst projects and deadlines it’s easy to get a little flustered and just shut down. You likely started writing because you love it, right? So take a break from everything that you’re getting paid to do and write something that you feel like writing. Maybe it’s a journal or personal blog entry, maybe it’s poetry, maybe it’s a song… whatever it is let yourself take a break and have some fun with it!
- Bounce ideas off a colleague – If you’ve hit a wall and you’re feeling burned out it could just be that you’re only allowing yourself to view a piece in one way. Let a trusted friend or colleague read what you’re writing and be open to constructive criticism. Toss ideas around with one another. Finding a good idea or a new twist could be just what you need to ignite the passion that writing requires.
- Don’t stress too much – When you write for a living and you’ve suddenly reached a period of burnout it’s easy to start stressing out about getting things done on time and wondering if you’ll ever get out of this rut. However stressing is just going to make it even harder to get back into writing, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Decompress a bit and allow yourself to recognize that you’re burned out. Your writing mojo will come back sooner when you’re relaxed and receptive.
Burning out is one of those annoying things that come with any profession, though it can be especially hard to deal with as a writer because you’re so used to the creative juices running freely. Your writing will be its best when you’re happily letting the words roll onto the page, not when you’re forcing them, so don’t be too down on yourself if you end up a little burned out every now and then. Allow your creativity to return and then the words will flow.
Jenny Ellis is a freelance writer, and a regular contributor for aupair care. She welcomes your comments at: ellisjenny728 @ gmail.com.
Image by PocketAces via stock.xchng
6 thoughts on “How to Deal with Writer Burnout (Guest Post)”
Excellent common sense, easy to do tips. My favourite one is getting together with one of my writing friends – whether online on in real life. It’s the best pick me up, re-energiser I know.
I’d add to the list: having realistic expectations of what you can do (though it can be hard to say no to jobs when you earn your living writing), learning to say no to others and yes to ourselves and eating/drinking/sleeping/exercising – basically taking good care of ourselves.
Taking care of yourself is a great one to keep in mind. It can be easy to forget to look after yourself sometimes.
Thank you for a great post. I think what you say here can be very true. When I was writing articles for a marketing firm I would get burnout pretty bad. Great advice!
Jenny’s provided some great tips. I hope they can help you avoid burnout in the future.
All good tips, Jenny. It’s nice to be reminded of all the different aspects of the writing life. I’d add three more to the mix: research, meditation (a good way to relax and focus at the same time) and an afternoon nap can also do wonders!
Sleep is a great reenergiser. I wish I was still able to have afternoon naps, but even an early night can do wonders.