“Guilt around rest is something I have struggled with a lot in the past; thinking everyone is getting ahead, everyone is working when you’re not, that I’ve started too late so I need to push through feeling tired to catch up with my peers. However, I realized for myself, that’s a toxic way to look at it. In order to show up and do more than just type out my set word count and actually be involved with the work, I need rest. Unapologetic rest. Take it. Regroup and come back to your projects fresh.” – Does any one struggle with burn out?
5 Thoughts for Writer’s Burnout
Written By: Christine B
August 26, 2021
The dreaded burnout: it happens to all creative types eventually. Unlike writer’s block, writer burnout is when you can write but you don’t want to. You’re stressed, you’re tired, and when you do sit down to write, you don’t feel joy or creative motivation. Whatever the reason, here are 5 tips on handling writer burnout from Reddit writers.
Replenish Your Idea Bank
Burnout is a type of mental exhaustion. Your love of writing is still there, it just might be buried under deadlines, social obligations, and the stress of daily life. Take a break to let yourself explore some new ideas. If all you do is drain your mind of ideas and never fill it back up, of course, you’ll run out of things to write about. If you’re feeling burnt out from writing, it might be a good time to take a break on whatever project you’re working on. Taking time off allows you to hit the reset button. Stop writing. Forcing yourself to write through the exhaustion will only make your burnout worse. Instead, take some time off to replenish your idea bank. Whether that means looking for inspiration or starting a new project, gathering inspiration is just as important as actually writing. Reading books, listening to music, exploring new places, or talking with other people are all great places to begin when looking for new ideas to overcome your burnout.
Build up some confidence
When you know what you’re doing, you feel more confident about doing it and, as a result, you want to do it more. When you’re not confident in your own writing, it can be difficult to feel like even trying. To gain confidence in your writing, invest in your talent by regularly sharpening your skills. Work on a few projects that you know will succeed. This can mean working on a personal project, writing in your comfort zone, or completing a small project. Maintaining a sense of confidence and empowerment over the course of a long writing career means checking in with yourself regularly to ensure that you are always taking steps in a positive direction—and not sliding back into negativity. Instead of worrying about whether or not you are confident, shift your focus to what you love about your work—and let your fears, insecurities, and inhibitions go.
“..Exploring other things I enjoy (or need to do) gives my mind time to breath, which usually accidentally kickstarts the ideas – a good idea may take a long time to come together, but letting the mind ‘simmer’ is always worth it.” – Burnt out but wanting to write
Start going to a counselor
Sometimes burnout can be a symptom of a larger problem that you might not be able to handle alone. In these instances, it’s best to seek help and support from a therapist, coach, friend, or family member. Explore your problem area and do what it takes to prevent burnout from happening again. A second party can help you turn things around and prevent future burnout. Make sure what you’re experiencing is really writer burnout by checking with your doctor. Plus, your doctor can give you more specific advice based on what physical or mental symptoms you may be experiencing.
When you’re sick of your writing, it’s time to go read somebody else’s. Reading is an excellent way to combat burnout. A good book can be all the inspiration you need to work on your craft, but even a not-so-great book can be the push you need to pick up your writing. It’s always helpful to approach your reading from a writer’s perspective, even subconsciously. While you’re reading or reflecting on what you read, ask yourself a series of questions: “what did the author do right? What could the author have done better? What kind of elements of this book do I want to incorporate into my own writing?” Reading another author’s work can not only spark your own creative imagination after burnout, but it can also improve your own writing. When you see others do beautiful things, it compels you to do beautiful things, too.
If you want to enjoy writing again, learn to write for yourself. Freewriting is an effective technique to shut down your “inner censor” and experience writing in the state of flow. The idea is to put down your thoughts as they arise, without evaluating them or caring for the language in which they get expressed. The purpose of freewriting is to express yourself for your eyes only. No rules and no stress. Put your fingers to the keys and just spew out randomness and see what you write down. Do a mind dump by writing down everything that comes to mind on paper. It can be helpful to use a timer to measure the time passively so you can fully concentrate on writing. However, there is no need to rush: write as fast or as slowly as is comfortable for you, just keep the writing fluent. Don’t correct typos, and don’t go back to read what you have written.
Want to read more from our fellow writers? Here are 5 Writing Advice from Internet Strangers!