Thursday, March 9, 2017

How Do You Avoid Burnout?

I was reading a post today in a Facebook author group I belong to and someone asked the seemingly simple question, "How do you avoid burn out?"

Based on the answers, it's not a simple question at all. Almost everyone felt pressure to write more/faster/better. I read the comments nodding the whole time. I write and read romance and some of my favorite authors release books every three months! One author friend released six books last year! I *plan* to release two books per year, but the truth is, in 2016 I only released a single novel, and honestly, I panicked about it. I even thought of condensing book two into a novella so I could release around Christmas time, but I couldn't shave that much off the story and still do it justice. So I'm releasing it as a full-length novel in April instead -- eight months after the first book in the series came out. It feels like an eternity!

And in order to minimize this gap in 2017, I've started writing the next book in the series and I'm putting in serious time getting in the words. While doing promotional stuff, planning, and drumming up interest in my upcoming release. At the end of the day, I'm spending a solid 10 hours/day on my author business AT LEAST.

I'm lucky that I don't have a "day job" anymore to juggle, too. I recognize and appreciate that I CAN spend this time and it is a gift most days. But it also means I see the possibility of burn out, even before the question is asked.

To combat this, I try to walk the dogs in the hills most days. I have a good friend who has a dog and we walk together at least a few times per week, but even if she's not available, I try to make myself go because otherwise the puppy drives me insane. I run first thing in the morning three days/week with another friend, which is on my to-do list anyway and has zero to do with writing. And lately, I've been blasting the daily playlist on Spotify as I cook dinner -- and I do mean blasting. There's something cathartic about loud music that clears my head, even if the occasional Justin Bieber slips through (Apologies to all the Beliebers out there. No offense intended :) ) 

I'm not sure any of them are a magic bullet, but each of them take me out of my head and, most importantly, get me off my butt away from the computer. I often come back with at least one new thought, which is definitely one more than I had sitting there staring.

So what about you? Do you feel burn out as a writer? If so, what do you do to combat it? Are there certain tasks that make you feel more burnt out than others? Inquiring minds want to know!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I've been burned out for awhile. I have no idea how to fix this other than to power through it.

Jonathan Schramm said...

My two-year-old burns me out more and more everyday... But a parents gotta do what a parents gotta do. I have visions of a long retirement where all I have time to do is write all the time. Great post!

Carrie Beckort said...

Thanks for the great post, Brenda! I wouldn't say I've exactly hit burn-out, but I do know what you mean about the pressure to get more out. I love that readers are asking when my next book is coming out, but that does make me feel like I'm letting them down by not getting my next one out quicker. I didn't publish anything in 2016... I'm trying to not let that bother me. This next book just requires extra time. I do agree with you on the music -- it can be magic for letting go of stress!

Brenda St John Brown said...

I often feel burned out writing a first draft, but the feeling dissipates for me once I've got words on the page because at least I've got something to work with, even if it's crap. I'm trying to get better about allowing myself to write a terrible first draft and not even read through the prior day's work just to get through it, and it helps b/c I don't get mired in exactly how awful it is.

Brenda St John Brown said...

Parenting is HARD. And parenting toddlers should come with an IV drip of coffee and wine. I didn't really start writing until my kid was in school full time, so I'd say any words you're getting in are a win!

Brenda St John Brown said...

I've talked here before about the pressure to produce and it's real, especially in the self pub world. But at the end of the day I try to remind myself that I work for myself and that pressure is self-imposed. It doesn't always work, mind you, but it does help!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

When I have a story to tell I am on fire, the writing flows, and I accomplish a lot in a short amount of time, but most often that is not the case. I'm tired from my day job, daily expectations, family obligations, and so forth, by the time I sit down to write I'm exhausted and I find myself glaring at the computer. I love ideas on how to to get the juices flowing again. Getting out of my head for a while is always the best advice.

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