How To Get Past Writer’s Burnout
Creativity is a tricky thing, because often it can be largely influenced by how we feel. If we’re having a crappy day, odds are we don’t feel all that creative or inspired. The trouble with writing though (particularly if you want to make a living off of it) is in order to actually get a full-length novel written we kind of have to force ourselves to write even when we don’t want to.
I found myself up against the biggest writer’s slump I’ve ever faced when the dreaded C word hit the world. I lost my childcare and had to somehow write AND work full time with a four year old clinging to my ankle, and I had the added worry of my husband being classed as ‘extremely high risk’. So… yeah… let’s just say the creative juices were NOT flowing.
What is writer’s burnout?
Writer’s burnout can happen because of a number of things. Maybe you’ve got a lot going on, maybe worldly events are sapping your motivation, or perhaps you’ve written a lot recently (post NaNoWriMo anyone?) and you’ve burnt yourself out by overexcerting those creative muscles. It happens. But the key is not allowing writer’s burnout to stop you long term. Remember, the longer your break from writing, the harder it will be to get back into the habit.
Dealing with writer’s burnout
So how did I break out of this and manage to complete my first draft? I started being super intentional about the following things…
- I stopped watching the news all the time. Unfortunately, my full time job (I write for a magazine) does mean I have to stay up to date with what’s going on in the world, but I found myself consuming it at all hours of the day which was basically sucking the life out of me. Now I ONLY watch the news at 5pm. Any other time, I try to push what’s happening out of my head. Instead of focusing on all the stuff I can’t control, I focused on what I could control… finishing my novel!
- I started taking better care of myself. I stopped living in pyjamas (though my clothing choice is definitely still more on the comfy side!), I had a bath, I stopped drinking wine every night and I stopped binging on Easter chocolate. Funnily enough, when I started acting more like a human and less like some strange smelly hermit my productivity picked up too!
- I went back to what made me start my novel. That initial spark that made me excited to start typing. The thing that made me go “Wow! That’s such an awesome idea! I gotta write that!” By revisiting those early emotions that got me pumped to tell my story, I got myself all excited again.
- I spoke to someone about my slump. For me, it was my critique partner. I mentioned that I was feeling uninspired, and she picked me up. She didn’t even say anything that life-altering. She just reminded me that my story is worth telling. She reminded me that, even though it needs work, my novel is GOOD and is worthy of being finished.
So that’s it. If you’re feeling uninspired try detaching yourself from the negativity of the world, taking better care of yourself, taking yourself back to what got you excited to start in the first place and talking to someone you trust. If you don’t have anyone, my inbox is always open!
Good luck x