Signs of Writers Burnout

Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”

Earlier this week, I talked about writing burnout and we did a monster podcast about it yesterday and we quickly spoke about the symptoms.

I just wanted to devote a bit more time to that here because if I look at the #writingcommunity on Twitter, it seems like either:

  1. Every writer is burnout
  2. Every writer hates writing.

That’s not a cool way to live.

And I know! I know! Sometimes it seems more cool to whine or hate on things, but you know what’s really cool?

  1. Enjoying your damn life.
  2. Enjoying writing if it’s your hobby, outlet, or job.

Herbert Freudenberger wrote Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. Back then he defined it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

So here are some questions to ask yourself if you are burnt out.

  • Are you super cynical about writing?
  • Are you super critical of your own writing?
  • Of everyone else’s?
  • Are you spending more time hating than even being apathetic? God forbid, loving?
  • Are you so totally apathetic about writing?
  • Is it really hard to start writing? Not in a writing block way, but in a consistent and longterm way?
  • Are you cranky with everyone?
  • Are you so worn out that you can’t even imagine lifting up your fingers, curling them over the keyboard and typing?
  • When you look at the blank page do you look away?
  • Can you not concentrate?
  • When good things happen in your writing world are you like, “Yeah. Whatever. Cool. Fine. Sure. NYT bestseller list. Okay. Whatevs.”
  • Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”
  • Are you sleeping a lot all of a sudden?
  • Are you sleeping never all of a sudden?
  • Instead of writing are you drinking or eating or getting high? Um, in a way that’s different than before?

A key risk of job burnout is when you really identify with your work, when you get your identity from it and that? Well, that’s pretty hard for writers not to do.

We’re writing because we want to communicate. We’re writing because we want to change the world. We’re writing because we want to tell our stories.

It’s hard not to identify with your work when you are exposing your soul on the page, right?

Yesterday on the podcast we talked a bit about what you can do to deal with burnout. The thing is that burnout? It doesn’t have to last forever.

There’s an old article in Psychology Today that has great ideas about overcoming burnout. I hope you’ll check it out! And take care of yourself. You’ve got to love yourself through it and you’re worthy of love, okay?

What if it’s more than burnout?

Then you need to really take care of yourself. This world needs you and your stories in it.

Untreated burnout can lead to serious depression. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a place you can call (in the U.S.) for help from a trained counselor.

If the danger is immediate you can call 911. 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

The Woman in the Wave

When I first saw her, she stood on a granite walk that jutted out into the Atlantic Ocean, holding onto a railing that tourists lean against in better weather. They stand, listening to the calmer waves sweep into a carved-out place in the rock called Thunder Hole. The ocean was crashing over her, obscuring her from my vision.

Someone screamed.

People had stopped their cars to watch the waves the storm made, but instead they saw a woman standing on the roped-off platform, her back to them, facing the sea as it smashed itself against her. I was one of those people, the people who watches.

She survived the wave that swept over her head and waited for another to come, to engulf her and the platform. The waves were so large, they splashed over my hiking boots and I was standing above her by fifteen feet. The echoes they made as the crashed against rocks hurt some of the children’s ears. One little boy stood near me with his hands pressed against his head, crying.

“She’s going to get swept right in,” a man next to me yelled to anyone and everyone. “She’s crazy. She’s going to get swept right in an bashed against those ledges.”

People murmured their agreement.

“It’s not going to be pretty,” he added.

This was true.

“You going to get her?” He asked me, zipping up his LL Bean anorak to his neck.

“Me?”

I looked around for a park ranger, a cop, someone official. There wasn’t anyone there. Just tourists in expensive cars with their kids and dogs beside them. And of course her, the woman in the waves, standing there, defying one of the strongest forces of nature.

Just then the woman buckled as another wave crashed against her. I expected when the crest dropped to see her gone, to just view the soaked granite of the platform and a vacant place where she used to be.

And then it hit me – the guilt of the bystander, the one who watches and witnesses. The guilt overwhelmed me.

She made it through. Her back was bent as if she was ancient.

“Jesus! She made it!” someone yelled. A few people cheered.

“What a freak,” some college-aged guy standing on the other side of me said. “She must be totally psycho.”

They didn’t know her. They didn’t know why she was there, what she’d done, who she was, what she’d been through, or even what emotions she was feeling right then. They just stood there watching, judging, not helping. And just like that, I knew… I didn’t want to be one of them.

“Okay,” I grumbled aloud and started down the wet rock steps, trying to pump myself up for what I was about to do. “Okay.”

Lifting one leg over the rope with the “closed” sign shining on it, I slipped a bit, heading down, but somehow she knew and turned herself, facing me now, grabbing onto the railing with both hands, she pulled her way back up towards me before the next wave hit. Her eyes were brilliant. The gray Maine ocean was so dull in comparison.

I reached my hand out for her.

She took it, smile, and came up to where I was.

“Thank you,” she said, laughing, alive, still holding my hand as she hopped over the rope and glided from one granite step towards the land, towards the bystanders, judging, watching.

And that’s when I realized where she was…? Down there in the waves? It was a less dangerous place then where we were heading back to. You know the violence to expect from the sea, from nature. You brace yourself for it. You move with it. But people? We expect more from each other. We expect hands and help, guidance and love. But too often, what we get is inaction, judgement.

When we got back up, most of the people had left. She survived. They weren’t interested any longer. The moment for them had passed, a story to tell, even though they didn’t know her, her motivation, or her name.

Sometimes I think that woman is all of us. Sometimes when things go down in this country that are just ridiculously bad, I think about that woman, standing there, a force in herself, bending but not breaking, refusing to be swept away, silently taking it as everyone watches. And when I think about her, I’m amazed.

“Are you okay?” I asked her as she shook out her hair and started to actually wring out the sleeves of her shirt.

“I am,” she said. “I am now.”

She took four steps forward and disappeared.

 

Note:

This happened when I first came to the island and a long time before the accident that took a child’s life close to this area. I was working dispatch at the police department when they recovered that little girl and this story has absolutely nothing to do with that horrible event. 

 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

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Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

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I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!