Episode 6: THE BURNOUT

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all been doing well in your splendid 2019! I know I have. I published a book, for crying out loud! When I started this blog, I really didn’t think I was ever going to get to that point. Do you know how many times I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped again with various projects?

Probably about as many times as YOU have. Am I right? I think that’s something that a lot of creatives have in common. We get full of inspiration for all kinds of new projects, and being creative, we have to go where the inspiration is. And often times we don’t have the discipline to stay with a project once the inspiration dwindles.

The dreaded BURNOUT.

Maybe you felt super inspired at the beginning of the project and created a ton of content early on and just wore yourself out.

Maybe you have been riding a wave of inspiration pretty consistently, but now you’re bored with it and need something new.

Maybe you were inspired once, but life and taxes and all that stuff got in the way and you just don’t have the time or energy to keep it going.

Lots of things could have happened. That’s how this works. That’s how we work. But it can’t be how we work if we want to be successful. We can’t depend on inspiration. Instead, we have to depend on HABITS!

So here it is, writers: MAKE WRITING A HABIT. Make it feel normal. Etch it into each and every single day, even if you’re only writing a sentence, or maybe something for your journal or diary instead of whatever your current project is. Doesn’t matter. Force yourself to write every single day, no matter how crappy it is.

The day or the words. Just do it. You gotta.

Eventually, it’ll be automatic. You’ll come home from work, sit down at your desk, and get to it for an hour or two. Or maybe you’ll wake up at some ungodly hour, water your plants, toast a bagel, and get to it for an hour or two. Or maybe you’ll put Frozen on for the eight-thousandth time for the kids and get to it for the length of that god forsaken movie.

But you’ll do it. You won’t feel the need to be “inspired.” Your brain will know it’s time to write and it’ll write. And that’s when you’ll know you’ve made the habit. It takes time to make a habit, but virtually no time at all to break one, so nurture it once it’s there!

BUT AJ, I DON’T THINK THAT’S WHY I’VE GOT THE BURNOUT you may be saying. Okay, that’s fair. Let’s take a look at some other potential burnout situations.

ANXIETY
I can’t claim to have a perfect fix for this because hey, your anxiety is none of my business. Maybe you need medication, or MAYBE you’re a huge procrastinator and have a billion things you are supposed to do that you’ve been putting off and you KNOW you need to do them but you just can’t get yourself to do them and that fact alone is eating away at your very soul and OH GOD WHY.

Just do the thing(s). I am a huge procrastinator myself and it gives me a ton of anxiety, so I get it. But the solution to this problem is to GET THE THINGS DONE. Force yourself to do them. You have it in you. It’s not easy, our brains literally do not work right in this sense, but you can force yourself to do it. Mail your packages, do your laundry, pay your bills, walk the dog, clean the kitchen, then scream into a pillow and you’ll be marginally better off. Trust me, the relief that comes after you force yourself to stop procrastinating is absolutely worth it.

DEPRESSION
Again, I don’t have the perfect fix for this. Everyone is different and you should see a professional. But hey I’m willing to bet that if you eat a bunch of crap, you’re going to feel like crap. Make a point of seriously eating better for at least two weeks and take a vitamin D supplement if you aren’t already taking a multivitamin. You will feel a difference.

But if you’re on medication, don’t stop taking it. Just try to eat a little better in the meantime. You have to feed and nourish your brain with what it needs if you want it to function right, y’know?

THE CORNER
What the hell is the corner? Well, if you wrote yourself there, you definitely know what it is. How do you write yourself into a corner? You give your characters too much control, that’s how! CUT THAT OUT. Yeah, it’s super cool to treat them like they’re sentient beings and let them do what they want and dictate the flow of your story, but when they do stupid crap that they can’t get themselves out of, you can’t get mad at them.

Because 1) they aren’t real and 2) you let them do that.

Have control over your world and what’s in it. A little bit of plotting isn’t going to kill you, I promise. Give your characters directions, and if they don’t follow them and instead write themselves into a stupid situation that you don’t know what to do with, tell them to TAKE IT FROM THE TOP! This is your story!

QUALITY
If you’re not editing, then you’re on your first draft. And if you’re on your first draft, the point is to just get the story out of your head and onto the paper. Don’t worry about how to word a particular sentence or what hand movements your character should be making while she tells her boyfriend what a loser he is. You can make it better later. Right now, whatever you’ve got needs to get on the paper.

Throw your reservations about quality to the side. They WILL hold you back. And that’s not what this stage is for. The first draft is the sand on the beach. The drafts that follow are how you will take that sand and build a magnificent castle.

Alright guys, that’s what I’ve got to say. Burnout takes us out of the game all the time, and right now it’s Camp NaNoWriMo and we can’t have that! So focus, write every day no matter what, take care of all the mundane little things you’ve been letting pile up, eat right for your brain’s sake, exercise control, and STOP WORRYING!

AJ OUT! ❤

One Comment on “Episode 6: THE BURNOUT

  1. Wow. I felt like you used me as a basis for this LMAO Seriously though, I’m diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder (schizophrenia and major depressive) and PTSD, both of which cause anxiety issues. My first book which just released has been a WIP for a decade and exactly what you said about making writing a habit was what I had to do. It’s taken a long time (obviously) but now I can sit down and write without trouble (generally speaking). We all have different stressors and problems to deal with, but this is a prime piece of advice you have here 🙂 Best of luck in your author journey and congrats on publishing your book! That’s a major achievement and you definitely deserve to celebrate :3

    Like

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