In a world where busy is praised and multi-tasking is considered a skill to include on your resume, it makes sense that we would all face burnout every now and again. Working a full-time job, then getting home to pick up the house, make dinner, and take care of other responsibilities would be enough to burn anyone out, but people who dream of writing a book add another layer of tasks and responsibilities to their already full days.
Burnout, which is now considered a syndrome by medical providers, goes beyond typical day-to-day stress and can result in a person feeling depleted of physical, mental, and emotional energy; severe exhaustion; and brain fog. For writers, symptoms of burnout can also include a lack of creativity or new ideas and lead to having no motivation or desire to write. Burnout syndrome, when not addressed, can last days, weeks, and even months.
If we are in tune with ourselves, we might be able to gauge when we’re getting close to burnout. I can always tell I’m pushing myself a bit too much when my brain gets foggy easily and I don’t want to look at my computer—or any screen for that matter. It’s my body’s way of communicating that it’s getting close to information overload and I need to take a big step back. Writer burnout can feel a little different for each of us though, so giving yourself time to check-in with your personal needs on a regular basis is a good place to start.
10 Ways to Beat Writer Burnout
When writer burnout does start to creep in, you might be able to fix it yourself with these suggestions.
1. Digital Detox
Our minds are in a constant state of information overload. When dealing with burnout, try to go as tech-free as possible. Take a break from social media, don’t turn on the TV when you get home from work, don’t catch up on news articles on your tablet or phone. Instead, just sit and be still without feeling like you need to be taking in information from anywhere.
2. Clean the Clutter
If your workspace is messy and unorganized, take some time to clean up. A disorganized workspace can actually lead to more stress and a lack of productivity. So, file away important papers, shred paperwork that has personal information on it, and reorganize your workspace a bit so it feels fresh. Then walk away.
3. Stop Writing
When suffering from writer burnout, the worst thing you can do is try to push through it and keep writing. Take a break from your writing and allow the distance to be healing for you. Don’t think about the fact that you’re not writing either. For however long you need, pretend you aren’t a writer and focus your time and energy on relaxing.
4. Talk about It
Burnout doesn’t affect us in compartments; feeling burned out on writing or at work will seep into other areas of our lives where we might not suspect it. So, be sure to communicate your feelings with your significant other, or a family member, or friend. Let others in on where you’re at and allow them to help you. You may also find it helpful to speak with a professional if feeling burned out doesn’t go away.
5. Be Social
Writers can become isolated due to their craft. When faced with writer burnout, take the time to be social again. Go out with friends, attend a party you might blow off under other circumstances, or ask a friend to meet for coffee. Use your time away from your writing to engage in social activities and enjoy life in the moment.
Exercise is extremely beneficial for writers. The hormones your body produces when you exercise can instantly boost your mood and reduce feelings of burnout. Make the time, even 15 minutes a day, to incorporate exercise into your routine and you will start to feel the positive results.
7. Focus on Sleep
A good night’s sleep is another important part of our health routine that writers will let fall by the wayside when they are at their peak performance. Make sure you leave room in your schedule to get 7–9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep helps to refresh our minds and allows us to process information on a subconscious level, which can help lessen the effects of burnout.
8. Try Something New
One of the best ways to break out of a funk is to try a new activity. Choose something you’re excited to do—going to a new workout class, cooking a new recipe, trying a new hobby—and you will begin to move away from writer burnout.
9. Read Something You Enjoy
Whether you go back and read one of your favorite books or sit down with your favorite author’s new release, take time to read something you love. By doing so, you’ll remind yourself why you love writing in the first place.
10. Protect Your Future Self
Once you’re feeling on the upswing and are on the other side of burnout, don’t disregard these tips as you move forward. Preventing burnout in the first place is far better than having to cure it. So, continue to exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep. Make yourself a priority. Give yourself free time in your schedule on a regular basis. By incorporating more rest and self-care into your routine, you may be able to avoid writer burnout in the future.
Have you ever faced the challenge of burnout syndrome? What piece of advice got you through it?