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20170815_135518.jpgBoy, it’s hard getting back to work after a vacation. My family returned from a Caribbean cruise on Saturday. We had a good time, but the following day, I had to get things sorted out so I could hit the ground running on Monday.

Then Monday came, and I was sluggish. I was barely getting any work done. Today, I’ve been experiencing the same thing. It appears that although the calendar says that my vacation has ended, my body has yet to realize it.

That’s one of the drawbacks about vacations. Before I went, I had hit a certain groove. I had my deadlines under control. I had certain routines that kept me on top of things. Things were moving smoothly and efficiently.

Vacations disrupt that. It’s like the cruise ship that I was on. Pulling out of port, it moved slowly at first. Then it gradually built up speed until it was moving along at 22 knots. (Don’t ask me what that is in miles per hour. I have no idea.) Once it gets up to speed, though, it’s easy to maintain it.

I’m that cruise ship right now, and I’m looking for a way to get back up to speed.

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norwegian-escape_i2894798.jpgYou know you’re in trouble when you are gearing up for your busiest selling time of the year and dreading it.

My fall and Christmas season are packed with events, mostly festivals, where I do a lot of my sales during the second half of the year. I was filling out applications and checks this morning and looking at my calendar with just about every Saturday and most Sundays filled up from September through Christmas. Rather than looking forward to the opportunity to get out and meet readers, refine my selling techniques, and make a living, I had a sense of dread.

That’s a warning sign to me that I’m starting to burn out. I need a break. It’s been a stressful summer because of things other than writing, but apparently, it’s taking a toll on my work life.

Luckily, we have a family cruise planned to the Caribbean. I love cruises and wish I could do more. I can see that I need this break, which is coming up next week. Of course, to get to that much-needed break, I have to pretty much double up on my workload this week.

That, combined with the burnout I’m already feeling, means I may not want to come back from the vacation.

Writers need vacations like everyone else. It gives us a chance to step away from work and deadlines and allow the creative subconscious to percolate with new ideas. If we’re lucky our choice of vacation will throw some new ingredients into the mix that our subconscious can work with. Years ago, when I returned from a vacation in the Netherlands, I wrote a creepy story set in a windmill that I still enjoy today.

So, the countdown to relaxation has begun, and if you don’t hear from me in two weeks, don’t come looking for me. It means that I’ve decided to live in the islands!

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Sometimes my goals exceed my endurance. I expect it to happen when I’m working out. My goal is to bench press 300 pounds, but I can only manage 280 or I want to bike 28 miles in 90 minutes, but I can only manage 20 miles.

cycling

The same sort of thing happens when I’m writing, but it sort of sneaks up on me. I set daily and weekly goals. Sometimes I hit them. Sometimes I don’t. I can handle that.

However, sometimes I have the time to achieve one of my goals but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Some people call it burnout and other call it writer’s block.

I see them as two different things. They both show themselves in the same way. I just can’t get anything written. The difference is how I recover from them.

When I first hit a point where I can’t write, I assume it is mild burnout. My treatment for that is simple. I take a day off of writing and rest from it. I even have a rest day scheduled into my weekly plan. I don’t write on Sundays. I take a break and usually come back strong on Monday. I use the same theory with my biking. I bike hard on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I do some other type of exercise that allows my legs to recover.

Elsa-resting-born-free-680946_586_400

If a day’s rest doesn’t allow to start writing again, then I assume that I’m suffering from writer’s block. Beating writer’s block is more than simply needing a rest. It’s your subconscious trying to tell you something. The cure can be a variety of things or a combination of things.

The best way to avoid writer’s block is not to run into it at all. Here’s are some tips to do that:

  1. Write every day. If you are keeping your writing creativity primed, then it’s easy to keep things moving. Newton’s Third Law of Motion: An object in motion tends to remain in motion. An object at rest tends to remain at rest.
  2. I like to keep multiple projects going. If I get stuck on one article, I’ll jump to another and come back to the original project at another time.
  3. I had an editor give me useful advice. Don’t try and get it perfect. Just write through it. You can always come back and edit it.
  4. Jump to another place in the book and article and work on it. If the problem is the story itself, either the change will give you a fresh perspective or you’ll realize you need to play with the story.
  5. When all else fails, I’ve found that nothing beats having a deadline that I need to meet.

Your goal is to do what is needed to get your writing project moving again.

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