Monday, May 20, 2024

Burnout, Stress and Everything Else, Why Writing Isn't a Walk in the Park


I think the hardest thing about writing is writing.

Nora Ephron

There comes a point in a writer's life where burnout and exhaustion begin to appear on the horizon, and the signs are ignored, until it's too late.

The pleasure you once had for writing starts to evaporate, all you're left with is tiredness, and a thick fog you can't seem to get out of.  You start wondering "Why am I feeling like this?," and "Why can't I put my thoughts down anymore?".

You've Reached Burnout

Your passion for writing is seeping away, and your creativity and drive feels like it's dying.  All of these are the symptoms of burnout.  Often, this happens through no fault of your own, but because you're not taking care of yourself properly.  

There is life outside of writing.

What is Burnout and How Did I Get There?

Burnout and writer's block are two very different things.  Writer's block is just your inability to write.  Burnout is something a lot more serious, that involves being physically, mentally and emotionally drained and unable to do any of your normal tasks. 

These pressures can be caused by things you do everyday, but in the long-term can turn into a time bomb if handled the wrong way.   The pressures of a writer can be stressful to say the least.  You have deadlines to meet, money to make, you're isolated, and these are just a few of the things that can really take a toll on your life.

Having this kind of lifestyle, as romantic as it sounds, can leave you feeling alone, tired all of the time, and not wanting to get out in the fresh air.  Stepping out into the fresh air for a break is put to one side.  And it's all just work work work, and nothing else.

How to Recognise Burnout

  1. Is your haven writing?
  2. Does writing affect your sleep pattern?
  3. Do you use pharmaceuticals to get through your day?
  4. Has your writing passion dried up?
  5. Are you constantly run down?
  6. Do you regularly feel overwhelmed and anxious over your writing?
  7. Is your memory poor because of your stress and anxiety?
  8. Does your mind go to negative things instead of positive?
  9. Has your motivation disappeared?
  10. Do you feel tired all of the time?

If any of these questions sound familiar you need to stop and take stock of your situation, because you're on your way to a burnout.  

But don't panic, all is not lost!

Learning How to Cope With Burnout Stress and Everything Else

There are ways of preventing a burnout and having an overall better writing life.  

Let's take a look.

Assess Your Work Schedule

It's easy to go full-on writer, but how long can you keep that kind of pace up?  Not long until you quickly succumb to a burnout, that will quite literally make you ill.  By assessing your situation regularly you can easy off when you need to and put on the pressure, when that's required.  Nobody can put up with that kind of schedule for long, until they eventually break down.

If you are suffering from burnout, you need to learn to slow down, or even stop writing for a little while to give your body the chance to heal.  Social media should only be used when needed, stay away from devices because they will only compound your situation and make it worse.

One of the biggest problems in today's world is that people can't seem to switch off.  I find walking a great way to clear my head and get out into the fresh air, even if it's raining.  It's a release, and part of my day.  Spending time out in the fresh air helps me to think.

Take Better Care of Yourself

As I stated in the previous paragraph, looking after your mind and body are essential if you want to handle your writing schedule.  Especially if you're editing, or really having to think about what you're writing about. 

Good sleeping habits, exercise, and a good diet will all go towards a well-balanced writing life.  Having short periods of quiet time can also go a long way. 

Keep Your Work Life Simple and Structured

I like my desk space to be uncluttered and free of piles of paper.  Having a structured day really helps keep anxiety and stress down.  Making notes, having a walk, making my lunch and dinner, all these simple things go towards a better day and life.  

If a deadline is looming make the time during your week or month to get it done.

Let People Know About Your Achievements and All of the Good Stuff You Have Going on in Your Writing Life

There's no harm in blowing your own trumpet, especially if you have something to shout about.  Maybe your book is in a best seller list, or your business is going really well.  Let your friends and family know.

Set Yourself Limits

Don't be the "yes" person, instead think about the time you have and how you can include it in your schedule.  We'd all love to be able to accommodate everyone, but we're all human at the end of day, and not superhuman.  Set your limits and stick to them.

Burnout and Stress Recovery

If you're currently going through a time of burnout, I'm going to show you there is a way out, and that all is not lost.

So let's get started.

Take a Break or Book a Holiday

I've put take a break first because I know not everyone has the luxury of having a holiday away from home these days.  When I say take a break, I mean from writing, social media, and just switch off.  If you really can't switch off don't use your computer, because there are too many temptations with technology.  Instead write your thoughts down in a notebook.

Take time out on weekends when you can, and just enjoy life. After all, writing shouldn't feel like a chore, but something you should be enjoying, because there aren't many people able to live a lifestyle that is so creative.

Understand Where Your Source of Stress Comes From

This part is easier said than done because it could be everything.  You need to learn to take on less work and not put as much pressure on yourself.  Learn how to structure your month better, and start there.

Rethink Your Workspace

There's no harm in going to the library, cafe or park bench, every once in a while.  A change of scenery and new surroundings can help restart your writing flow again.  

Use Everyday Menial Tasks to Kick Start Your Creativity

Most days I have some kind of menial chores to do, things like, washing up, ironing, hoovering, cooking the dinner.  You get the idea.  As small and often repetitive as these tasks are, they help me to think and do what I need to do to get through my week.  Being useful has its own rewards, and that can really help when you're feeling helpless.

Chill Out and Meet Up With Friends and Family

Your nearest and dearest are the support network you need to get through any difficult time in your life.  All of us need time to wind down and relax.  This precious time should be taken when a big project is finished or a break is needed, in order to move on to the next task.  Not to be used or overdone.

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Read more:

Building Your Readers Knowledge Base

Understanding Your Audience With the Four Communication Styles

Empathising With the Reader

Changing Your Reader's Mind

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