As writers, we face many hardships, such as rejection, criticism, lack of time, writer's block...just to name a few. But of them all there's one, in particular, that seems to sneak up on us often unnoticed, and we don't realize we're battling it until it squeezes the creativity out of us. That adversary is called exhaustion.
It can happen to the best of us, and it occurs in a variety of ways. Perhaps we lost joy in the writing process altogether, or we've run out of fresh ideas. Maybe the act of juggling our writer's life with all our other obligations has become too much to bear.
I've recently had several of my writer friends express this sort of exhaustion with writing but blogging in particular. They've made it clear to me that they've reached a turning point and no longer know what to say. They've become sick of writing, submitting manuscripts for publication, posting new articles, and wish they could just stop. These talented writers had lost not only their joy in writing but also their enthusiasm for all things related to writing...and in some cases even more. They seemed to have forgotten all they had accomplished. They were left drained and downcast. It saddens me to think of them giving up on writing altogether.
Benjamin Franklin used to say: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!" Wise words indeed, but how can you prevent losing the joy writing brings due to fatigue? Here are just a few things that have helped me in the past to at least mitigate the effects or even avoid burnout entirely:
- Reevaluating the Workload
I like to look at my to-do list quarterly, and then decide what to keep and what to toss. At this point in my life, my two main priorities are my family (which includes three crazy dogs) and my writing. If my commitments outside my home don't line up with my priorities, then it might be time to reevaluate my to-do list.
- Cutting Back on Social Media
Let's be realistic: Social media is everywhere, and it can be a significant drain on a writer's time and energy. A few months ago, I decided to cut back on the time I spend posting and commenting on my social media outlets. While at first glance, this might not seem like a significant change, it has freed up quite a bit of my time and energy that I can now devote to other responsibilities.
- Chasing the Joy of Writing
It's that joy that fuels my creativity, and sometimes I forget that I have to consciously look for ways to bring joy into my own life. I find comfort in the simple things of life, like drinking a good cup of coffee, snuggling with my dogs, or reading an exceptional book. Or just scrubbing my kitchen until it gleams - I know, it's weird, but I enjoy it.
- Taking Care of Ourselves
Just because we hit rock bottom, the point where we must stop writing for the sake of our well-being, that doesn't automatically mean we have to give up our writing career forever. I frequently have to take a break from writing when my migraines hit me. It doesn't do me any good if I force myself to keep on writing while I suffer through excruciating pains. So, If I have to distance myself from my writing in order to get better, then that's what I'll do. Self-care is important. If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will do it for you.
- Taking a Break
I just got back a couple of weeks ago from a week-long trip to Missouri. And although it was a busy week filled with driving, meetings, dinners, etc., it was still a break from my routine. After my time away, I was ready to jump back into my day-to-day life with renewed energy.
Most writers battle burnout at some point. The trick is to be aware that it is a genuine adversary and to be mindful of the symptoms that may indicate that we are losing our spirit and joy of writing. We have to take conscious steps to recapture the joy that brought us to writing in the first place if we notice that our happiness is slowly being squeezed from us. We can't really expect anyone to love our scribbles if we don't even like what we write!
Have you ever faced burnout or lost the joy in writing? What helps you through the rough times?
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added four historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty , The Country Girl Empress, A Life in the Shadow of the Crown, and The Perpetual Traveler. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Goodreads.
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