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.