Let’s assume you have a new writing project on a subject you’re interested in. You may even have had a series of debates on with your friends, so you are apt with ideas, facts, and all the data you need to execute the project.
To make it more profound, you have just churned out an impeccable piece a few days back, and you are certain that you’ll relish the new project experience, so you are anxiously waiting to kick it off.
Sadly, as the D day approaches, you postpone with an assurance of commencing on a new date, but as the new date approaches, you lack the energy to open your writing pad. Instead, you feel tired and stressed – you’re experiencing writer’s burnout, not block.
Writer’s burnout is different from writer’s block. Writer’s block is a writer’s inability to churn out words on the blank space before him. Writer’s burnout does not necessarily affect a writer’s ideas of what to write; it attacks his energy and impedes his productivity.
This happens when you are stressed or overworked for a long period. There are times when work takes its toll on you and affects your ability to deliver your deliverables. Burnout is the exhaustion that comes after a stretch of hard work, irrespective of your profession; it doesn’t diminish your credibility.
However, a writer does not only experience burnout from actually writing alone. Other writing activities, like reviewing a project repeatedly, rewriting a previous work many times, editing different manuscripts, the stress of publishing a manuscript, and the stress of sourcing a viable platform or distribution channels for our work can trigger writer’s burnout.
Signs of Writer’s Burnout
Writer’s burnout is easy to confuse with writer’s block, and so many writers treat writer’s block when they are experiencing burnout. Before answering the question, ‘am I experiencing writer’s burnout?’ you need to understand the signs and symptoms. Some of the signs include:
Depression: Being depressed while doing your job as a writer is a pointer to the fact that you have hit your burnout.
Unfulfillment: There is a liberating experience a writer relishes each time he completes a project. He looks forward to the next one with excitement, but once this feeling is eroded, burnout is gradually taking its toll.
Lack of Interest: Writing is a gratifying experience for a writer; hence every new project is embraced, especially when it’s your genre or an intriguing subject matter. When there is no interest in projects across board, you are suffering from writer’s burnout.
Fatigue: There is no cause for alarm when you feel tired after a hectic day. But when tiredness and exhaustion spill into each passing day and make you unable to do your job, or you feel tired without a clear reason, you need to check it.
Procrastination: Rescheduling a job for a later date is not bad, but when you continuously alter the date without a plausible reason, you’re having burnout.
Lack of Commitment: In this case, you feel unconcerned about your deadlines. You don’t care if you meet up with it or not.
Why Writer’s Burnout Happens
It’s good to have lots of projects on your desk that keep you busy at a very fast pace, but if you don’t slow down, you may experience burnout. Even if you are not overloaded with work, other reasons could cause you to experience writer’s burnout, and some of them are:
High Expectations: In the creative space, you are as good as in your last job. So oftentimes, new projects are usually in competition with the previous projects. When the expectation becomes overwhelming, it can lead to burnout.
Negative Feedback: When a writer’s work is met with constant criticism, it can trigger burnout.
Setting Unrealistic Targets: Even though it is commendable to be goal-oriented, the writing space is a creative space, and as a result, the propelling force the writer needs may not always be under his control. When a writer’s goal is not met, it can cause burnout in the writer.
Absence of Support: A writer saddled with other pressing responsibilities, like child care and its overwhelming demands, without moral, psychological, or financial support can suffer burnout.
Lack of Sleep: Sleep is very important in everyone’s life, including writers. Not getting adequate sleep can cause a writer to burn out.
Stress: Like all other professionals, a stressed writer can develop a subconscious dislike for his job.
Excess Workload: Sitting on numerous projects can trigger a writer’s burnout over time, especially when you have tight delivery dates. Another twist is when a writer writes, edits, proofreads, and does the publishing himself.
How To Overcome Writer’s Burnout
Writer’s burnout is not permanent; you can overcome it with the right approach. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Take a Break: Based on the popular axiom that all work without play makes Jack a dull boy, you can walk off the writing space for a short period and explore other creative mediums. You can go on a vacation, picnic, take swimming lessons, visit the cinema, go on a fishing expedition, etc. This will help you rejuvenate and come back refreshed. Even while working, you can treat yourself to some mini breaks – meditate, relax, or simply take a walk.
2. Have Enough Sleep: Sleep is the most potent remedy for stress. It costs nothing; it’s just for you to tweak your to-do- list and allot extended hours to your sleep. No matter the effort you put in to remedy your burnout, if you are not getting enough sleep, it is a futile effort.
3. Get a Hobby: Your hobby is your escape route from professional stress. However, some writers started writing for fun but now write to make a living, thereby losing the fun aspect of the craft due to tight deadlines. If you fall into this category, find a new hobby and seek the slightest opportunity to savour it.
4. Learn to Turn Down: We are usually scared of turning down some jobs because we do not want to bruise the client’s ego, but this can be detrimental to your competence. When the projects on your desk are overwhelming, take a break from new projects and focus on clearing your slate. Do not bite more than you can chew.
5. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones: There are people who light up our mood anytime, any day. Find time to savour memorable moments with them. Ensure they are the types that support your goals, ready to give you a listening ear and offer a helping hand.
Irrespective of your work, learn to balance your professional and personal life. Create time to spend with your loved ones; that would make life easier and even help you produce quality content.
Let’s know if you’ve ever experienced burnout and what you did to overcome it.