How to Prevent Writer’s Burnout
Most writers strive to produce a certain number of words per day. When your entire livelihood depends on how much you write, that’s more or less inevitable. Although many people can juggle endless to-do lists, every once in a while, their energy can run out without a warning.
When you get sick and tired of writing, your writing career can suffer. You may feel you can no longer think straight and don’t want to create content. Every now and then, it’s crucial to take a step back, reflect on your goals and make lifestyle changes.
Some possible self-care and task management measures to prevent writer’s burnout include:
Reduce Your Stress
It can feel overwhelming when there’s so much to do. It’s important to:
List Your Tasks.
Learn to write down your tasks. A task might be as simple as a visit to a local library or an upcoming book event. Other tasks might be more pressing, like finalizing your first draft or meeting with your editor. Writing down your thoughts will help you organize your goals and ideas. You’ll also feel more relaxed from no longer trying to remember everything.
Once down on paper, you can then rank your tasks in order of importance. Then choose between doing the tasks, delegating them, or scheduling them. It’s important to pen down the next step for each task. This will ensure you’ll progress, step by step, towards your ultimate goal of completing bigger tasks without feeling overwhelmed.
Promote Emotional Stability.
Meditate often and engage in activities that you enjoy. Writers, like all people, need time for themselves. Take the time to write at a more casual pace, so you can be able to relax. For instance, you can start journaling your personal life. The time you take can help you figure out your original goals and plans as a writer. Make sure you plan for vacations in-between seasons to restrategize at regular intervals.
Use your free time to work on non-writing skills that may improve your writing success. For example, attend a session in the best sales negotiation training. It can take your mind off the pressures of writing while improving your sales skills to earn more from your books or articles.
Carve time out of your busy schedule for your hobbies. Find ways to express yourself creatively in other ways than writing. Music and dance can be great alternative outlets for creative expression.
There will be days when you won’t feel like your writing is at its best. It happens. Accept that you will sometimes receive negative feedback from clients and readers. Use it to improve your writing and your sales.
Perfectionist writers are often plagued by an unrelenting inner critic telling them their efforts are not good enough. Use positive feedback and healthy rewards to stay motivated. For example, treat yourself to a movie once you complete a chapter of your next book or finalize your article.
Unplug from Social Media
It’s okay to experience signs of writer’s burnout or want time away from your desk. If you ever feel hopeless, it’s more important to take some time off. According to the Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, unplugging from social media might be worthwhile.
Dealing with social media trolls, in particular, can lead writers to feelings of frustration. Keep in mind that social media trolls aim to inflict pain, ridicule, and humiliate a targeted person. Responding to trolls may drain a writer’s energy while adversely affecting the writer’s reputation and brand.
To prevent burnout, drop the reliance on social media and reconnect with friends or family in person. Offline connections and experiences might actually provide you with new material through conversation topics, characters, and places.
In fact, at times, writers may benefit from counseling or therapy sessions more than just talking to their family. Talking to a therapist can be a good way to gain perspective on your problems and to feel heard.
For some writers, burnout could take months to recover from. It’s important to go through the healing process not feeling guilty because burnout can happen to the best of us. Admitting you are mentally exhausted allows you to seek help, prevent further damage, and recover faster.
Though it is important to list your tasks, what’s even more important is to determine what is and isn’t essential on your to-do list. The best way to do it is to break down your list into daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Only take on work you are sure to complete. Make sure to not overstretch your limits.
In the case of extra work, opt to delegate or reschedule with the client. Create a support network of people you can reach out to in case you are overwhelmed. Ensure your work and rest time are present in your routine. Concentrate on essential activities or activities that are not emotionally draining. For the non-relevant issues, schedule them for when you are free.
To prioritize your tasks with ease, use the Eisenhower Matrix to place activities in order of urgency and importance. Here are four questions the Eisenhower Matrix allows you to answer to organize your tasks better:
1. Urgent and important? Place at the top of the list.
2. Important but not urgent? Schedule a date to undertake the task.
3. Urgent but not important? Delegate.
4. Not urgent and not important? Delete from the list.
Use Time Management Techniques
The Pomodoro Technique can be especially useful for writers to manage their time better. The technique works by breaking down your workday into 25-minute chunks, followed by 5-minute breaks. After four cycles (or pomodoros), you take a more extended 15-minute break.
The Pomodoro Technique works by instilling some urgency into each work cycle. The mind likely focuses better and is able to avoid distractions when there are only 25 minutes to make as much progress as possible. Other time management techniques you can try include:
1. Deleting social media and email apps from your phone.
2. Following the Pareto principle, i.e. focus on the 20% of your tasks that bring 80% of your results.
3. Delegating tasks others can handle.
4. Starting your day by doing the job you are most likely to procrastinate on.
To prevent the onset of writer’s burnout, get your endorphins flowing with some cardio training. Apart from the health benefits, exercise reduces stress and burnout. Regular exercise can give you the energy to withstand long working hours. Daily workouts can enhance your memory retention, which can improve your writing skills.
To avoid a relapse, choose exercises you love. Focus on fun exercises you can do daily or weekly. Buddy up with a partner and take a walk or enjoy a bike ride. With regular workouts, your sleep and rest routines can improve.
What we’re trying to say is that proper nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when dealing with burnout. There is evidence that writers who adopt a healthy lifestyle can cope better with stress and anxiety.
Change How You Write
If you spend most of your time writing fiction, test out your talents in writing something different, like sales copy or technical writing. Alternatively, you may also slow down and write fun topics with no thoughts of perfection, word count, or deadlines.
You can also slow down by reducing the amount of writing you do or even temporarily taking a break from writing altogether. If you have a business or personal blog, temporarily reduce the number of articles you produce. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to any additional work. You may also outsource some work to reliable writers.
See if you can break out of your routine while keeping your activities relevant to your career. In your spare time, you could read books unrelated to your genre and listen to podcasts from bestselling publishers. Maybe you could join a writing group or attend some writer training events. Try fun activities that can take your mind off regular work and still fill your writing reserves.
Change Your Work Environment
Working from the same spot every day can get boring. Moving from your desk to a nearby coffee shop is a great way to enjoy a change of scenery. The change of location can remove distractions common to specific workspaces. For instance, Jeff Goins, author of Real Artists Don’t Starve, alternates between writing at home, at his office, and at a New York coffee shop.
If working from home, you may not realize how screaming babies, the TV, or the refrigerator could be triggering an onset of burnout. Discover environments that allow for creativity and where you won’t keep stopping and going back to writing, maybe even go on a writing retreat. New discoveries can break the monotony and even provide more inspiration.
Embrace Positivity in Your Creative Works
Keeping positive-minded people around you will radiate positivity in your life. Negative conversations can affect how you view yourself as a writer, often leading to resentment. Find friends who share similar dreams and aspirations as you. Positive friends will push you to achieve more and be of help in case of burnout.
Be grateful for each everything you achieve. Practice gratitude daily. Shawn Achor, in his bestselling book The Happiness Advantage, discovered that feeling grateful for five things, no matter how small, measurably elevates our happiness.
Self-care is essential for writers. A few minutes or hours of break time is better than months spent getting over extreme burnout. Writer’s burnout is real and dangerous. So, be on the lookout for the early signs. Early detection means a quicker recovery and a faster return to creative work.