On Writing And Feeling Burnt Out

As the title of this post suggests, I’ve been feeling burnt out when it comes to writing. It has everything to do with my recent, self-imposed deadline.

I learned a valuable lesson trying to make my deadline. Writing seven days a week two months straight made me sick of writing. Sure, the progress was great…but I suffered creatively. After getting tired of writing my book, I switched to writing a short story before stopping altogether.

BUT, I learned something, and, for me, learning is an important part of my writing process. What did I learn throughout this experience?

The Good

  • I learned I can produce quality words under a deadline. 45,000 words to be exact, in almost three months. Add to that the 21,000 words I already had, for a grand total of 66,000 words, and I nearly walked away with a complete first draft. So close, yet so far away.
  • I can keep to a strict writing schedule. Even though I burnt myself out, I was writing at least a thousand words every weekday and as much as possible on the weekends. This will come in handy when I have legitimate deadlines.
  • The quality of my words didn’t suffer. Even though I didn’t make my deadline, I’m pleased that I didn’t cave in and write any old words down when the shit hit the fan. Quality will always trump word count in my book.

 

The Bad

  • Feeling like I had to write each day took most of the fun away. My creativity felt more and more drained as the days passed.
  • I didn’t complete my goal to have a first draft finished by the beginning of May. Failure, on any level, sucks.
  • My personal life became pretty much non-existent. Seriously, I barely even turned on the television. I was like a bear in the back of some cave hibernating.

 

The Ugly

  • I put on fifteen pounds, need a haircut, and a shave. Yeah, I ate whatever I could grab and thought mostly about my story. There were days when I would sit around all day in pajama pants staring off into the white void of an empty page. Oh the glamorous life of us writers!
  • The house needs some cleaning too. It’s not terribly messy. I do like to keep things clean and there are a few things I should have done a better job with keeping tidy. Live and learn.

 

In the end, I simply spent time with my family and didn’t think about anything writing related. My brain needed time to re-charge. It felt good to not worry about word counts and plots for a short while. I’ve been helping my nieces learn the Pokémon card game and watching hockey with my sister. Sometimes the simple things are all we need to unwind.

Today I’m ready to get back to work. I think it’s important for each writer to know their limits. I’m glad I tried this experiment before crumbling under the weight of a real deadline. I discovered I’m the type of writer who needs some time away every week. I need time to simply be me without the writing.

I also have a newfound respect for the writing moms of the world. I can’t imagine juggling kids, a job, family responsibilities, and writing. My hat goes off to all the women who do, and make it look so easy. I understand it can’t be that easy, just know you are appreciated and respected for all your hard work and dedication.

While being driven and having dedication are important to any writing career, so is knowing your limits. We must know when to take a step back from our writing so our personal lives don’t become non-existent. Each of us will have a different balance. We should each discover what that balance is before we burn ourselves out.

And whatever you do, don’t be like Jack Torrance. All work and no play does make Jack a dull boy…and crazy too.

We’re talking frozen axe murderer corpsesicle crazy.

Yeah, I found a way to sneak some horror stuff into this post. 😉

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2 comments

  1. I often find myself in need of at least a week off of writing in general when finishing something major, or of writing something completely different and unrelated to the book.

  2. “Feeling like I had to write each day took most of the fun away. My creativity felt more and more drained as the days passed.”
    Dude I know EXACTLY how you feel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That’s cool that you figured that out now though. It would’ve sucked to figure it out when you had a deadline given to you.

    ……did you grow a beard? (just kidding)

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