It’s 2021 and people are burnt out. There’s COVID-19. There’s political strife. Systemic bigotries and biases. There’s meanies at the grocery store and there’s that never-ending effort for some of us to pay for food, shelter, and health care, right?
On Carrie’s blog, http://www.carriejonesbooks.blog, she talked about how you can burnout on self care even, but also how writers seem super susceptible to burnout and why she was a bit burnt out for awhile.
First, let’s put some definitions out there.
Writer’s block is when you can’t figure out what to write.
Writer’s burnout is when you are super stressed and completely mentally and physically exhausted. You have zero motivation.
And surprise surprise this pandemic has burnt out a lot of people–not just writers.
What else causes burnout?
- That damn stress
- Nobody supporting you
- Not being valued
- Working too hard
- Multitasking like a wild one
What are the symptoms?
Back in 2016, the Harvard Business Review had an article by Monique Valcour about beating burnout.
Her main three symptoms are
Add to that:
- Zero motivation
- Not being interested in things
- Feeling like a big fail
- Not feeling attached to anything, especially your work
In Valcour’s article, she pulls out four things you can do to combat burnout.
Shift your perspective.
Reduce exposure to job stressors.
Seek out connections.Valcour
Easier said than done, right?
Over on the blog, TOO MUCH ON HER PLATE, Dr. Melissa writes
Taking care of YOU is not a luxury.
Which makes sense because if you don’t take care of yourself and your basic needs, you die.
But I think she’s talking a bit beyond those basic needs and writes what happens when you don’t take care of yourself! Yes, we’re talking to you!
You have less energy and motivation to follow through on your goals
You are more easily distracted and less focused
Many people tend to turn to “vices” to fill in the gaps that aren’t being filled with in quality ways. Stress eating and other kinds of emotional eating, smoking, drinking too much, wasting time surfing the internet—these are a few things that tend to show up, waste more of your time and energy, distract you, and contribute to a vicious cycle of decreased happiness and less effectiveness.
Stress levels are higher
Sleep is often impaired (or sacrificed)
It’s common to feel deprived, irritable, more easily frustrated, or impatient
Creativity suffers and life usually includes less play and fun
Health is negatively affectedDr. Melissa
So how do you take care of yourself without burning out on taking care of yourself?
Spoiler: Carrie is burnt out on daily five-minute arm exercise videos.
Spoiler: Shaun is burnt out listening to Carrie do those five-minute arm exercise videos.
Anyway, how do you take care of you? Again, Dr. Melissa has some lovely advice:
Start claiming 10-15 minutes a day for yourself. Use this time to connect with yourself and to pay attention to how you feel and what you need. Journal, walk, meditate, soak in the tub. Try not to save this for the end of the day when you are too tired to move and your brain has stopped working. Pay yourself first or, if necessary, take a break during your day.
Adopt the following mantras: “I’m doing my best,” and “I can’t do it all.” They are true. Put them where you can see them and remind yourself of them frequently.
Create effectiveness in do-able steps. Each evening, identify your top three personal action items for the next day and decide when you will accomplish them. Think do-able. If these daily goals seem overwhelming, make them smaller. A fifteen minute walk that you take is better than the 45 minute one you couldn’t fit in. If possible, knock out your personal priorities early in the day.
Plan for food that fuels you—especially when time is tight. Don’t skip breakfast, have a plan for lunch, and don’t starve yourself before dinner. Make sure you have the groceries that you need. Choose foods that are appealing. No starvation diets.
Cut the multitasking. It stresses us out and makes us less effective. Practice focusing on doing one thing at a time. You won’t get it perfect, but that’s okay, remember step number two.
Take emotional eating seriously. It’s often a signal that life is out of balance and your personal priorities need more attention. Emotional eating happens when our spirit or our life isn’t getting fed the non-food things we need or crave. If you wonder about how to stop emotional eating, it starts with paying attention and developing ways of caring for ourselves instead of turning to food.Dr. Melissa
All pretty cool stuff, right?
A few years ago, Kellie McGann on The Write Practice blog talked about how to overcome writing burnout specifically. She said she had writer’s burnout because “I started thinking that my words didn’t matter and no one needed to hear what I had to say.”
That feeling is so common especially for pre-published writers or writers who are from oppressed groups and identities.
So how do you deal with it?
How to deal with Writing Burnout according to McGann
Recognize the Problem
Don’t Stop Writing
Find Yourself (again)
Don’t Try to Explain Yourself
What does that mean?
It means that you have to keep being persistent and putting words down even when you never want to write again if it’s your job and your dream to be a writer/author/novelist.
It means you’re allowed to be open about being burnt out, but you don’t owe other people explanations about the why of your burnout. But you don’t have to tell anyone why you aren’t putting your words out there. You get to do you.
It means you have to take the time to remember or re-remember, why you’re a writer, who you are, what your message is, what you want to say. You get to go back to the core of who you are, the real you, and your message to the world.
And it does matter. You matter. Your words matter. We need them out there.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD
Burnout is real. Take care of yourself.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Make your own mantra. Find your joy, don’t worry about that outside validation. Know your purpose and go after it. Sparty’s purpose is food. He goes after it. Even if it’s a bacon crumb under a coffee table, that dog is all in.
You’ve got this. Be like Sparty. Find people that support you and your voice.
Articles we mention in our random thoughts are
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!