A writer will eventually find himself facing a large brick wall and feeling as though he has been put through the wringer. They throw the towel in and walk away only to regret it later.
#1 Pace Yourself
Burnout can occur with anything when you rush forward at warp speed and don’t slow down. You get so involved in the creation of worlds and characters and put so much energy into something that you love that you end up slowing down to a dead stop. It is like hitting a brickwall. The words that once flowed fast and smoothly are nowhere to be found. You’re burned out.
We are all guilty of this, even writers. We do it in any area of our life where there is passion. You need to pace yourself. Don’t think of it as a race.
Okay, I have to say that you are at the mercy of your muse. If the muse says to keep going into the wee hours of the night, who are we to argue? If we do, we’ll be even more miserable. But don’t push yourself just to get something done and say you did it. You will regret that. Try to take it a little slower.
#2 Don’t Push the Writing
There are times we make ourselves get something done. We push forward because we have a deadline, it is not a pleasant task, or we just want to get it off our to-do list. But for a writer, when the words don’t come, you can’t push it.
I’ve tried this. The results have been a lot of deleted words. It saddens me when I have to pay for the push. Let the words come only if they are willing. When the muse is awake, write. When the muse is quiet, relax and focus on other things.
#3 Take Time Off
You don’t have to write all the time. Even the best of the best have days or even weeks where they are not writing. Step away and have a vacation from your writing.
Okay, writers really never take a true vacation because their minds are always seeing new plots around them. But they can get away from focusing on the one story and trying to get the right words down. One of the best ways is to just read or watch a movie.
When you are reading a book, you typically lose yourself into the world displayed to you on the pages. That is what you want, a mental vacation. It takes you from your story and into someone else’s. Who knows, you might find inspiration that gets you back to writing with a vengeance.
#4 Set a Schedule
To keep your life as level as you possibly can and not be on an emotional rollercoaster, consider setting a writing schedule for yourself. Maybe it is every night after the kids go to bed. Maybe it is every Tuesday and Thursday or on the weekends.
A schedule has you focused on writing when you need to be and not having to think you should be writing 24/7. It takes a load off of your mind which you will be thankful for.
Be rigid at first when you make your writing schedule. Once you have it as second nature, you can become more flexible. Therefore when you miss a time or life throws that wrench in the works, you can adjust without skipping a beat.
#5 Don’t Focus on One Story
Sometimes it is not the writing that burns you out as much as the story. Yes, the story can be the cause of stressing out as a writer. When that is the case, you need to get away. You need to focus on something else. If you are still in the writing mood, switch to another story to focus on.
I get sick of one story and quickly turn to one that has been nagging at me. I write on it until I can’t write no more. Then I take time off from writing to read or I just find another story to work on. It’s really that simple.
#6 Let Your Muse Control the Writing
Don’t try to do it all yourself. That is why you have a muse. Let the muse control your writing. When you let your muse control your writing, you have less stress.
Many times you’ll find yourself fighting over a plot or character development. That can wear you out and have you not wanting to write for weeks on end. That’s why you should just let the muse rule from the beginning.
No matter what you do, meditation can help you avoid stress and burnout. The whole purpose of any form of meditation is to forget the world around you and readjust your bearings. Whether it is prayer or just emptying your mind, meditation helps you with the stress of writing.
What is causing your writing problems? More times than not it is a cluttered brain that is having its own version of a panic attack. You need to clear your brain and focus.
#8 Watch TV
Take a break!!!! Watching TV can actually be therapeutic when done in moderation. Your mind leaves your writing which is what you need and want. Focus gets on something fun and relaxing. You might even find inspiration.
Find something new to watch. See what others find fascinating. Lose yourself which helps your mind break down the barriers.
#9 Get a Hobby
I firmly believe that everyone should have a hobby. It’s a great way to relax and explore other interests. You can chill and let your mind rest.
When I get frustrated with my writing, I pick up my crocheting. It helps me to relax and clear my mind. Otherwise, the frustration interferes with my writing. This gives me a chance to breathe and start over, stronger.
#10 Don’t Force Yourself
Yes, we want to meet a goal or deadline. We should all have those. They help us complete tasks. But if the words aren’t there, they aren’t there. Forcing them will make them all the more difficult to come forth. Let the words come on their own.
When you force yourself, you build up the block even stronger. You need to let your mind relax sometimes in order to find the words you need.
#11 Get Away to Write
Sometimes you just have to get away from daily life. It interferes with writing. Life is crazy and busy. I know that I can get too focused on getting up on time, making sure meals are prepared, doing my job, and taking care of my family. As you need a vacation from work, you need a vacation from life.
I know it is not always feasible to get away for a week or even a weekend. There are ways to work around it. I work full time and have a family.
#12 Play Music
Music is a great tool to help get over issues with your writing. It can be soothing. It can be inspiring. I have listened to instrumentals and wondered what kind of story would accompany it. Stories have been inspired that way. It can give you ideas you can’t seem to find.
It can also help you unwind when the tension of writing gets to you. You can let the stress flow. Listen to nature sounds, a soft piano, or choose one of your favorite rock bands. Listen to the music that helps you relax.
Reading is a great way to avoid writing burnout or to recover from it. It can be a mini-vacation from your own writing. I can get lost in a different world that clears my mind and helps me feel refreshed and energized to start my own writing.
If you have a plot problem or even a character problem, reading can help. You can get ideas from others writers that can inspire you and help you where you struggled.
#14 Don’t Write Everyday
Writing everyday sounds like wise advice and can be very productive…at first. It can be your downfall right into burnout. Too much of a good thing can be bad, no matter what it is.
Set aside time to write. If you write for multiple days in a row, be prepared for burnout. Take time away from writing to refresh the imagination and keep up the energy.
Laughter really is the best medicine. It can help you clear away stress and free your mind of clutter as well as lighten your mood. Laughter is one of the greatest weapons against depression, burnout, and just downright blahs.
Watch a comedy. Read a joke book. Talk with family and friends and bring up funny things that had occurred in the past. It can get your side hurting but will be so worth it.
#16 Different Places to Write
Sometimes it is just a matter of where you are writing. I cannot write with too many other people around. I get frustrated and the writing completely stops. I have to find someplace else to write.
Try a coffee shop. The back porch. The bedroom. I’ve even gone to a park. Try around different places and see what helps you get your writing going again.
Journally is a great way to get your burnout removed. It can be a way to release your feelings and remove anything that is hindering you. Sometimes it is something that happened a few days ago that we haven’t gotten rid of yet. Think of it as a writer’s therapy session.
#18 Regularly Exercise
Don’t shake your head. This does work. Exercise is similar to laughter in how it helps you mentally. It clears up your mind and allows you cleanse yourself in many different ways. It can be as simple as a daily walk. It can be riding a bike. I’ve added in bird watching in parks as part of my exercise to help me get over writing burnout.
What ideas do you have? What has worked for you?