Monday, January 19, 2015

Surviving Writer Burnout

Everyone struggles with their craft. It's simply part of the creative process. But sometimes, our craft can get the better of us. For a lot of writers out there, it's write or die, and sometimes when you're unable to write, you really do feel like you're dying.

I experienced writer's burnout summer through the beginning of winter 2014. This was something stronger than writer's block, which for me usually lasts only a short time. This went deeper. I dragged my feet for several weeks, and then months. I felt overwhelmed with the ideas that kept coming into my head and my lack of time/energy/ability to write them all down. My head became too loud, and my heart became too frustrated. The pressures of my non-writing life and feeling lost in the void of self publishing completely got the better of me.

What did I experienced?

  • Poor Self Worth: thinking there was a direct correlation between my writing ability and my sale's report. I compared myself to other writers and asked myself why I wasn't as successful as they were.
  • Guilt: Feeling I was letting down the fans I already had (and those waiting for specific stories) with my failure to produce
  • Distraction: Too much involvement on social media, too much rereading of all I'd currently written, filling my free time reserved for writing with anything else.
  • Depression: Inability to focus on works in progress or to generate new ideas, a lack of motivation to attempt writing, withdrawing for my blog & research that I love doing
  • Blame: I pushed my frustrations on those around me in my personal life. I hated myself for being a lump. 

How did I get through it?

  • Shifting Gears: With my muse on vacation, I forced myself to focus on things related to writing (reading other works in my genre, researching sex and other random topics of interest)
  • Making Lists of Reasonable Goals: I set realistic, achievable goals, broken up into pieces. Step by step instructions for a smaller daily goal made climbing out of burnout easier. Over time my progress was visible. 
  • Writing Anything: I did something as simple as writing a letter to my grandfather. I wrote a paragraph about my lunch or about visiting a friend. I wrote down a few dreams I had, trying to use as much description as possible to exercise my brain.
  • Chilling Out: I stopped comparing myself to others. I pampered myself and told myself I had to get back to the basics rather than focusing on illusions of grandeur (Writing is about being heard/having my work read, not to make money).  
  • Idea Book: I've been keeping an idea book of anything that has story potential. Some ideas are more sketched out, with character names & personalities, where other ideas consist of only a title.  I intend to use this for when I feel the onset of writer's block or another dreaded burnout. 

Where am I now? 

Although I'm still struggling in some areas, I feel like I'm finally crawling out of my rut. I'm meeting goals and setting new ones, and taking the steps I need to in order to keep writing.


  1. Seems I wasn't the only one to be in a creative slump. I am keeping in touch with my writing by editing my pervious works. That and catching up on my to read list.

  2. You hit the nail on the head with this. For the first two weeks of February, I was in the exact same funk. It sucked, but I got through it. I experienced all the same things you mentioned...lack of self-worth, doing any stupid thing instead of writing. Thanks for posting about it - nice to know other people deal with the same stuff.

  3. Thank you for sharing! It's good to know I'm not alone, since I've gone through these slumps, too. :)