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:
- Every writer is burnout
- 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?
- Enjoying your damn life.
- 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.