Need a new Case? Save $30 with code SPARKLE30 + Free Shipping at Case-Mate.com! Offer ends 12/15.

Author Topic: How do you fight off burn-out?  (Read 1731 times)  

Offline RRodriguez

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 265
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • The Pixie Chronicles
How do you fight off burn-out?
« on: June 19, 2017, 08:29:20 AM »
I feel like I'm losing the battle in trying not to feel sorry for myself.

At the moment, I don't write full-time. I have a day job that takes up those precious 40 hours a week, so I write on my downtime when I can, and because I take weekends off, it all averages out to about 500 words per day. It doesn't sound like much, but it's where I am right now.

I don't write on the weekend because I don't have time, and also because it gives my brain some time to recharge and come back to my writing feeling fresh. But more and more often now, those two days don't even seem like enough. I don't want to take more time off than that because then I'm wracked with the guilt of stalling my progress, but sitting down to work is leaving me feeling empty nowadays.

The goal is to write full-time, but recently it all seems pretty ridiculous. I feel like I'm running out of ideas for future novels. My progress is so slow I might as well not be writing at all. My ideas feel stupid and overdone. I'm frustrated because I feel guilty that I can't afford to offer a $30-$45 wage for a professional editor/cover artist, but how can I when I don't even make close to that myself? But I don't want to put out a less-than-professional product either. I feel like a child trying to swim after the big kids and I'm drowning before I even start.

I know, pathetic right? Like I said, no one likes self-pity, but dang. I haven't even gotten started today because it all feels so pointless. This is my dream and the first time I'm trying to take it all seriously. So why do I feel like I'm just treading water?
thepixiechronicles.com

Offline Shelley K

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1834
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 08:50:44 AM »
I feel like I'm losing the battle in trying not to feel sorry for myself.

At the moment, I don't write full-time. I have a day job that takes up those precious 40 hours a week, so I write on my downtime when I can, and because I take weekends off, it all averages out to about 500 words per day. It doesn't sound like much, but it's where I am right now.

I don't write on the weekend because I don't have time, and also because it gives my brain some time to recharge and come back to my writing feeling fresh. But more and more often now, those two days don't even seem like enough. I don't want to take more time off than that because then I'm wracked with the guilt of stalling my progress, but sitting down to work is leaving me feeling empty nowadays.

The goal is to write full-time, but recently it all seems pretty ridiculous. I feel like I'm running out of ideas for future novels. My progress is so slow I might as well not be writing at all. My ideas feel stupid and overdone. I'm frustrated because I feel guilty that I can't afford to offer a $30-$45 wage for a professional editor/cover artist, but how can I when I don't even make close to that myself? But I don't want to put out a less-than-professional product either. I feel like a child trying to swim after the big kids and I'm drowning before I even start.

I know, pathetic right? Like I said, no one likes self-pity, but dang. I haven't even gotten started today because it all feels so pointless. This is my dream and the first time I'm trying to take it all seriously. So why do I feel like I'm just treading water?

First off, 500 words a day will get your novels written. In that time, you can maybe save enough to buy cover art. Sure, if you can write more, the process is faster, but there are some people who are so incredibly busy that 500 words a day is an achievement.

Trick is figuring out if you're one of those people, or if you could do more if you wanted. Two possibilities:

1. You truly have no more time to write than you're already devoting to it (this one, fair warning, is rare)
2. You don't really want to make more time to write (this one is common)

Very few people fall into the 1 category. More people are busy, but could find time to write if the desire really was there. Forty hours a week is what people typically work, and a lot of people working even more hours than that make time to write almost everyday. I'm not asking what else eats up your time, but if you can look at those things and see things you could swap out for writing, then you need to ask yourself why you're not writing instead. Is it because it's not the #1 priority (which is fine) or because you're afraid if you had more time to write you might have to then publish and potentially fail? Fear often has a lot to do with it when some people say they don't have time.

If you watch TV at all, are those programs more important than writing, and why? If it's your dream, what other things are worth sacrificing for it? Is it maybe not as important as you thought but instead something you can do now and then and be happy with? There's no wrong answer. It's about self-discovery.







« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 08:54:52 AM by Shelley K »

Offline Jessie G. Talbot

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1239
  • Gender: Female
  • Raleigh, NC
    • View Profile
    • My Website
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 08:55:37 AM »
Time spent on the internet is also a drag, especially if you're searching out pro writers to compare yourself to.

Jessie G. Talbot | Website | Twitter | Newsletter

Offline RRodriguez

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 265
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • The Pixie Chronicles
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 09:01:35 AM »
I feel like if I tried in write more than I am now, that would only increase my burn-out, not decrease it. It's true, I do have more time to write than I actually use, and the days I try to tackle more than my usual word count I feel absolutely exhausted. For me, I'm trying to increase my speed, not the hours put in it because I know I reach a certain point where I feel like other aspects of my life begin to suffer if I don't give them enough attention. Of course if I don't even WANT to write, such as today, because it all feels pointless, that's another problem I'm trying to work through.

thepixiechronicles.com

Offline VanessaC

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 226
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 09:10:22 AM »
Sounds like you are worn out and need a break.  I've been there, too, and suspect you'll get a ton of others commenting with the same. For me, it wasn't the writing that was the struggle, but a stressful job bleeding out to everything else. It's a really awful place to be in and I'm really sorry you're there just now.  The good news is, it's not forever, even if it feels like it right now.

Can I just point out that 500 words a day, on top of a full-time job, is a huge achievement!  Well done! Do that regularly, even four days a week, that's 2000 words a week, 8,000 words every month (at least) and 104,000 words a year, which is awesome! And I suspect you do more than that some days.  Are you keeping a log of your words per day? This might not work for everyone, but I love keeping track and watching that word count going up.  The scrivener progress bar is great, but I am also seriously considering getting some gold stars, too, as an extra reward.  ;)

And don't forget that it might feel like a slog, but you are light years ahead of people who've never tried or who, like me, didn't write for months and years at a time.

Things that have been really helping me with my plans for world domination, er, my ambition to write full-time are discovering that I really need some structure to my day and week around work, life and writing.  Not always easy, I know.  For me, for example, I absolutely have to have one day off a week where I do not have to do anything - no chores, no writing, no work, nothing.  I often end up doing chores or writing, but because it's a choice it doesn't feel so hard, and if I really don't have the energy, I don't need to feel guilty about chilling out.  I have also re-ordered my routine so I go to bed earlier and write first thing in the morning, before work.  Believe me, I am not a morning person but it is the only time of day I generally have free and getting my words in before the day properly starts makes me feel I've achieved something.

But the biggest, most helpful thing of all is: be kind to yourself. My advice - take a moment to celebrate - 500 words most days of the week is great! And work out what you can, reasonably, do, and do that. :)

Best of luck.  :)

Edited to add: If you're trying to increase your writing speed, have you checked out 2k to 10K? It's so helpful!

Offline Kyra Halland

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1455
  • Gender: Female
  • Arizona
    • View Profile
    • Welcome To My Worlds
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2017, 09:21:43 AM »
I'm assuming you haven't published yet; if that's not correct, forgive me.

If you haven't published yet (or, well actually, even if you have), my suggestion is for now, don't think about the publishing and everything that goes along with it and just focus on having fun telling your stories. Get the books written; I see you have three in progress? You might just concentrate on one at a time for now. Just finish one book, however slowly you have to plod along with it, then the next one, then the next. I've been working on revisions on two large projects and finally got tired of feeling like I was getting nowhere, so I set one aside for the moment and really focused in on finishing the stage that the other one was in, and wrapped that up on Saturday. Having gotten to the end of one of my revision steps has given me new energy and motivation. So for now, just focus on finishing one thing without worrying about all the rest of it. That will take a lot of the pressure off.

If the cover art problem is really causing you stress, make a plan in the meantime. If you have extra pennies to save for a pro cover, start saving. But not everyone has those extra pennies; some people truly are stretched to the limit just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, if they even have that much. If that's the case, start a hunt of stock photo sites and other image sources (a lot of museums now offer images of paintings in their collections free for all use, even commercial) for free images that will work for now. You can always change covers later if you're able to afford more later on. It is possible to do a pretty decent (or even better) cover with a free image or something that costs maybe $15 from a stock art site and your own lettering. Just study lots and lots of covers to get an idea of what would be appropriate for your genre and what good practices are. Bold, simple, genre-appropriate image and lettering, easy to see what it is at thumbnail size.

Quote
I feel like I'm running out of ideas for future novels. My progress is so slow I might as well not be writing at all. My ideas feel stupid and overdone.

Totally normal. Probably most authors, even longtime working professional authors, feel like this sometimes. Don't worry about it.

Quote
This is my dream and the first time I'm trying to take it all seriously.

If you want my honest advice, stop trying to take it so seriously. Like I was saying above, you're putting too much pressure on yourself. I think that's what's burning you out. For now, just have fun writing your stories.

ETA: and like VanessaC says, celebrate what you're able to do instead of worrying about what you can't. And second the recommendation for 2k to 10k, by Rachel Aaron.


Tales of fantasy, heroism, and romance.
Kyra Halland | Website | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Goodreads

Offline Craig Andrews

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 346
  • Gender: Male
  • Portland, OR
    • View Profile
    • Craig Andrews Website
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2017, 09:31:54 AM »
There's a lot of good advice in this thread already, so the only thing I'd add is that it may feel like a lot of work to add additional writing time, but if you're strategic with it you can probably find another 30 minutes to an hour pretty easily. More importantly, you can do this without adding a bunch of extra stress to your life.

What program do you write on? Word? Scrivener? I use Word, and I've begun syncing my computer and phone together via GoogleDrive. I try to sneak in a paragraph in the morning when I get to my parking garage (I've had 45 minutes to think about what I wrote earlier in the morning), another at lunch, another when I get into my car to drive home, and finally a fourth before I settle in for the night. Just that alone adds 250-300 words to my daily count, but as I think you'll find, one paragraph often turns into two or three, meaning you could conceivably double your daily output without putting much more work in per day.


Offline C.M.Estopare

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 11
  • Gender: Female
  • Maryland
    • View Profile
    • Author Site
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2017, 09:41:10 AM »
"The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day." - The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Every morning I read that quote out loud to myself before I sit down and write. I'm a serious lurker on kboards, but seeing your post pulled at my heartstrings. At every point in my writing and publishing journey, I always feel like I should be doing more. I look at my covers and think that they aren't good enough. I read my writing and contemplate burning my laptop. I read through the works of other authors and think that I should just throw in the towel. I've been writing professionally for two years now and I'm afraid that the fear that my writing is never going to be good enough isn't going to go away. Ever. But you know what stops me? Refusing to look down.

When I was twenty, I had to slide down a 47-foot rappel tower in basic training. 47 feet. My fear of heights is crippling. When I climbed to the top of that tower, I looked down and almost puked on my senior drill instructor. I was so frozen in fear that the senior drill instructor almost threatened to spartan kick me off. To rappel down, I had to turn around, pretend I wasn't so gosh darn high up, hold tight to the rappelling rope and jump. Sometimes when we look down to see what we've done (or what we will have to do) it makes us freeze up. We think we aren't doing enough. We think that we aren't good enough. Well, I encourage you to stop looking down and have some pride in everything you have done to climb up.

You've done so much in your writing journey. You write daily--even while working a full-time job. You're wading into this pool of self-publishing bit by bit. Keep at it. When I rappelled down that tower, there were other girls flipping upside down or flying down faster than me. If I looked at them, I definitely would not have jumped. I've learned to acknowledge the awesome work that other people do and then acknowledge my own. You need to acknowledge the fantastic work you have done by setting daily writing goals for yourself while taking care of your daily life. Then, once you're done looking down, look up and see what's possible. See what could come next if you refuse to give up.


C.M. ESTOPARE | BLOG

Offline Alix Adale

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 167
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Paranormal passion--embrace the night.
    • View Profile
    • alixadale.com
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 09:46:10 AM »
This might be an odd suggestion on an indie author forum featuring mostly self-published novelists, but have you tried short stories and submitting them to paying markets? If you write sf/f, you're in luck as there are still a number of paying markets you find on market listing sites like the Submission Grinder.

The advantages: you'll finish something short-term and feel an accomplishment. Short stories can teach you a lot about craft, plotting, and economical prose. You'll get a feel for where you are skill-wise or idea-wise if that's a concern. And it's much easier to get feedback in critique groups on a short story than a novel; few people have time to read unpublished novels and provide detailed feedback.






Paranormal passion--embrace the night.
Alix Adale | website | newsletter | twitter | goodreads

Offline Douglas Milewski

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1082
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 09:49:33 AM »
I'm like you. Recharging is a necessary and critical part of writing my novels. Personally, I doubt that I could go full time unless I stumble into runaway success. (I'm not banking in it.) My business plan reflects this as I'm aiming for the midlist. I write about 2 books a year (about 70k words each), which I can pretty much do indefinitely. I'm aiming to increase that to 3 books a year, but my editor keeps me on my toes whether I like it or not, sending me back numerous questions which take a while to sort through.

By the way, you keep coming up with ideas for novels. They happen. Or you can steal from the best, modernizing a far older story. (That's the entire fairytale market.) Or you find a new tool to add variation.

Life at the bottom isn't easy. I spent many hours learning how to make covers. I trade time with my editor. I limit my ad spending because my market isn't big enough to provide a reasonable return. Everything seems to be two steps forward, one and 3/4 steps back. Every direction is a learning curve. Still, the best thing to do is to keep writing and keep learning your marketing.

After ten years of daily writing (more or less), I don't feel it at all. Writing is just life.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 10:12:28 AM by Douglas Milewski »

Disclaimer: I sell horribly. Set your filters accordingly.

Offline Laran Mithras

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1010
  • Butte MT
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 12:38:46 PM »
When I feel I need to take a break, I take a break. A real break. I don't even open my book folder to look at my book cover JPEGS. I don't open up Word and check my draft.

A certain combo usually does it for me in getting back in - listening to music by headphone and looking at pictures for book covers. I might make some notes from doing that.

When I'm serious about writing and am in the mood, I go to YouTube and load up Alpha-Theta binaurals and listen by headphone. The words flow like a river.
 

Online KhaosFoxe

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 340
  • Gender: Female
  • Co. Kerry, Ireland
  • English expat, UF author.
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2017, 02:02:35 PM »
When I feel I need to take a break, I take a break. A real break. I don't even open my book folder to look at my book cover JPEGS. I don't open up Word and check my draft.

A certain combo usually does it for me in getting back in - listening to music by headphone and looking at pictures for book covers. I might make some notes from doing that.


This. I'm currently coming to the end of a two week break that I desperately needed because I was badly burnt out. I planned it so there would be no guilt. None of the 'oh but I should be writing'. It was scheduled as a break, which like Laran said, meant no looking at the drafts. No talking about the drafts. No glancing at book covers. Absolutely nothing relating to those books. I gave myself a complete break, and I feel so much better for it.

I've tried pushing through burn out before, and it just got worse, and worse, until I was forced to stop.

Urban Fantasy author.

Offline Matti Lena

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Gender: Female
  • California
  • Long live the young at heart
    • View Profile
    • mattilenaharris.com
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2017, 02:31:36 PM »
In my experience, with a situation like yours, you need hugs. Lots of hugs. Or chocolate, if hugs aren't your thing. ;) Compassion, particularly self-compassion, is the first step towards recovery when you're in a place like this. I totally agree with C.M. Estopare. You are doing so many things right, and I know that's hard to see when you feel this way because your vision is focused on everything you think you're doing wrong (trust me, been there!). But when I read your post, I see so many things that you can feel proud of. 

First, you're still writing, and that's huge. Plus, you're doing it despite all the pressures of a day job, family, life commitments, and so on. That is a hard feat to accomplish, and the simple fact that you haven't quit your dream already puts you ahead of the millions of creative people in this world who gave up because they caved to their discouragement. Yet, in the face of your discouragement, you're finding a way to write 500 words a day. That's fantastic.

Second, you're taking your weekends off, so you're already taking steps to protect your creativity from burnout, and that's huge too. You have good instincts about what your creative process needs (like weekends to recharge). I don't think you need to be worried about future ideas because you're already aware of and responsive to your creative needs. Your creativity may get a little bruised during times like these, but it won't abandon you.

Third, you've sought out sources of advice and support. To me, that says you're a fighter who doesn't know the meaning of the word surrender. No white flags for you, even if it means calling on other warriors to draw swords with you. You may feel like you're losing the battle and treading water, but the reality is that you're hanging in there like a boss. ;)

Your burnout may not stem from overwork. To me, your burnout sounds like it comes from an emotional place. If that's the case, then your best burnout cure will need to address the core where those emotions are coming from. A lot of the statements you made in your post seemed rooted in a comparative outlook. You say five hundred words a day doesn't sound like a lot--compared to writers cranking out 10,000 a day? Guilt for stalling your progress--compared to writers publishing a book every month? Your ideas feel stupid and overdone--compared to all those top-selling authors who dazzle with their brilliance? Guilt for not being able to afford certain publishing services--compared to writers who drop a grand+ on every book?

There are a lot of messages out there, some stated and some implied, about what a writer is supposed to do to find success. They'll dictate all kinds of things--daily word counts, writing techniques, marketing approaches, earning strategies, success milestones, never-endingly. These messages are hard to resist because they're so pervasive, but the more you try to play their version of the game, the more you will lose because the goalpost will always change the minute you get near it. When it does and you fail, then it's guilt, guilt, guilt.

You'll need to find a way to take your power back. You are a rebel--creative thinkers always are--so you know that not all "rules" are worth following. You challenge the world with questions like "what if?" and surprise people with unexpected solutions because you're a storyteller, and that's what storytellers do. Your pedigree makes you uniquely suited to dictate your own terms in every aspect of your life. Sure, it helps to know best practices, but in the end you don't just create art--you create the path you take to make that art. Your own path, your own art, your own success, your own destination, all uniquely yours. Whenever you feel stressed or inadequate because you're not living up to the standard-makers' standards and traditions, tell them to screw it. Then flip that fairytale on its head and show them how you do things.  8)

*Hugs and chocolate!*
Matti Lena Harris | Website | Twitter

Offline Laran Mithras

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1010
  • Butte MT
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2017, 03:34:50 PM »
Matti says a bit there that really needs attention. We see a lot of 1000 words a day - hour - minute - second... posts - whatever - that stress productivity.

An author can't just switch a dial on his forehead to a certain output and just spew words. We must first find our comfort zone and build on it. I remember only writing a half hour every day at first with no consideration for covers. I now spend a good half hour and more (on average) considering my cover every day before diving into the words. A further half hour or more is spent rereading what I wrote the day before.

As I progress on this path, my words per day increase dramatically.

But forcing? Wouldn't have worked.
 

Offline Dax

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2017, 06:09:56 PM »
Disclaimer: I am unpublished, soon to be published. But, in the course of pregnancy, moving, and dealing with life and a full-time job, I have managed to write 2 full novels, one at 80k (on its last pass of editing before proofing), and another at 90k, in the course of 6 months. By many, many standards here, it isn't great, but I think it's a good start.

My goal is to make six figures plus from writing. My long-term goal is to get that spot right under Bella Forrest and J.K. Rowling. But, that might take a few more months.  ;D

So you should take my advice knowing where it comes from and what goals I have.

I think you have to either readjust your expectations or readjust your approach. Your expectations belong to you. You don't have to measure up to anyone else. This is your life, your ball game, and you get to make the shots. No one else.

There's just no point to beating yourself up over imaginary dreams you have. I think you're struggling here because it's not entirely clear what your goals, your needs, and your wants are. You're a little mired in all those feelings, and it helps sometimes if you can clear it all up.

So -
(1) Do you really want to be a full-time author? What is the "real want" underneath the "want"? Is it filthy lucre? (Always a fan of that.) Is it expressing yourself creatively? Is it winning awards? What's the real want? When you envision yourself FT, what's the feeling that comes with that? Freedom? The feeling of taking a bath in hundred-dollar bills, buying a Gucci purse without a care in the world? Is it a quiet life out in the country raising chickens and stringing up your laundry in the sun while you tend to your writing in between chores? All quiet, no one to bother you except the mailman you wave to as he rolls on by?

(2) Once you've established the REAL WANT, you can establish WHEN you want to get there. It HAS to be a reasonable timeline. But see (3).

(3) What do you have to do to get the REAL want on the timeline you want? It may mean giving up a lot of other things. I mean, I don't make my bed most days, and my kitchen can sometimes have several days worth of dirty dishes in it. I don't like that - I'm a clean freak - but that's reality. I don't have time to do it all, and I priortize my writing work over all that at this point. I also don't have that many other hobbies. Writing takes a LOT of time. I'm no Amanda by a long stretch, but I wrote a 70k novel in 42 days and a 90k novel in 60 days, which is an OK speed. And I don't have my A-game together on my writing, but I'm constantly working on it and measuring it.

I'm not saying this to make you feel bad - at all. In fact, you shouldn't feel bad, because my house is kind of a mess, and I have a to-do list I'm pretty much drowning in constantly. But my life priorities are this: my health, my relationship, my job, my writing, my social life, and then everything else that has to be attended to pretty much immediately. I space out my social visits so that I have large blocks of writing time on the weekends. I don't love the state of affairs, but I've accepted it as temporary and necessary to meet my goals, and I fantasize about having enough cash to hire maids. I mean, I just can't fix time so I have to work within it.

(4) If you can't find the time to meet the goal on the timeline you want to - after being very logical and analytical and REALLY thinking about it - then you  just HAVE to readjust your expectations. Writing is just plum hard enough without beating yourself up and having all these other guilty emotions on top of it. I think part of it is realizing that you are making a choice and just owning that and accepting that. You can make a choice to write 500 words a day and watch your TV programs and destress and spend time with friends and there is NO SHAME IN THAT. You have MADE that choice. You own it, 100%. It's your life and you don't have to measure up to anyone else's standards.

I hope that makes sense, I sort of crammed this in after finishing some editing. (I really, really wanted to respond first,  but I used responding as a candy bar to getting the editing done that I needed to get done. Know thyself. I am like a child. I use little rewards like that to motivate myself and I just roll with it.

I hope that helps. And FWIW, your covers are beautiful, IMO!







Online Lorri Moulton

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
  • Gender: Female
  • Author of Romances, Mysteries, and Fairytales
    • View Profile
    • Lavender Lass Books
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2017, 06:21:15 PM »
I feel like I'm losing the battle in trying not to feel sorry for myself.

At the moment, I don't write full-time. I have a day job that takes up those precious 40 hours a week, so I write on my downtime when I can, and because I take weekends off, it all averages out to about 500 words per day. It doesn't sound like much, but it's where I am right now.

I don't write on the weekend because I don't have time, and also because it gives my brain some time to recharge and come back to my writing feeling fresh. But more and more often now, those two days don't even seem like enough. I don't want to take more time off than that because then I'm wracked with the guilt of stalling my progress, but sitting down to work is leaving me feeling empty nowadays.

The goal is to write full-time, but recently it all seems pretty ridiculous. I feel like I'm running out of ideas for future novels. My progress is so slow I might as well not be writing at all. My ideas feel stupid and overdone. I'm frustrated because I feel guilty that I can't afford to offer a $30-$45 wage for a professional editor/cover artist, but how can I when I don't even make close to that myself? But I don't want to put out a less-than-professional product either. I feel like a child trying to swim after the big kids and I'm drowning before I even start.

I know, pathetic right? Like I said, no one likes self-pity, but dang. I haven't even gotten started today because it all feels so pointless. This is my dream and the first time I'm trying to take it all seriously. So why do I feel like I'm just treading water?

Why do you write? 

Do you do it for enjoyment?  Do you have something you want to share with others?  Do you want to change careers? 

I think it's easy to get discouraged, when we compare ourselves to successful full-time authors, especially when we constantly read we need covers, editing, advertising, etc.

Yes, it's nice to be able to afford those and some will say it takes money to make money...but if money is not the primary reason you're writing, then does all that really matter?

I don't know if I could write under a deadline anymore.  I don't even like people asking me about the next book in a series.  It feels like pressure!  I wanted to escape that pressure...which is why I started writing.  Life got to be too crazy and I needed to create worlds I could control. :) 

Best of luck in the future and remind yourself it's okay to be a small fish.  Everyone started out this way.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 06:28:42 PM by Lorri Moulton »

Author of Romances, Mysteries, Fairytales and Historical Non-Fiction.
Lorri Moulton | Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter

Offline Dolphin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1925
  • Gender: Male
  • Under the Sea
  • Skree'ee--eee, eeek!
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 06:22:48 PM »
"The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day." - The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This is the book I came in here to recommend. Frankly I'm not sure whether Steve would think reading it is an investment in your career or just another way of indulging resistance...but surely the answer has to be the former. Steve wouldn't do us like that.

I've decided to name my resistance. His name is Howard. As in, "I was going to write today, but Howard wanted to play video games instead," or "I wrote a scene, but Howard didn't think it was any good," or "Howard thinks this is almost good enough, but it could use another couple rounds of editing."

Howard is a right [crap], and I've decided I hate him. I'm going to start trying to do things just to spite him.

Online Kal241

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 629
  • Gender: Male
  • Things are never what they seem
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2017, 06:23:15 PM »
I don't get to have a burnout period because the stories in my head want to be told. They force me back on track whenever I start going off the rails.

An artist and a writer combined into one being. When you work with Kal, you get a 2-4-1 deal!  

Check out my artistry at: http://kal241.deviantart.com/
Writing samples of mine will be made available upon request.

Online Lorri Moulton

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1179
  • Gender: Female
  • Author of Romances, Mysteries, and Fairytales
    • View Profile
    • Lavender Lass Books
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2017, 06:30:53 PM »
Dolphin - LOL! :)

Author of Romances, Mysteries, Fairytales and Historical Non-Fiction.
Lorri Moulton | Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter

Offline Captain Cranky

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 68
  • Gender: Female
  • Australia
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2017, 06:32:28 PM »
I mean, I don't make my bed most days, and my kitchen can sometimes have several days worth of dirty dishes in it. I don't like that - I'm a clean freak - but that's reality. I don't have time to do it all, and I priortize my writing work over all that at this point.

I'm not saying this to make you feel bad - at all. In fact, you shouldn't feel bad, because my house is kind of a mess, and I have a to-do list I'm pretty much drowning in constantly.

Oh thank god. Me too.

I don't have much to add because I'm struggling with some of the same issues, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Offline Dolphin

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1925
  • Gender: Male
  • Under the Sea
  • Skree'ee--eee, eeek!
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2017, 06:42:55 PM »
The goal is to write full-time, but recently it all seems pretty ridiculous. I feel like I'm running out of ideas for future novels.

Oh, and this, specifically? This is just a dumb lie we all believe about ourselves. We keep thinking that even after it's been proven false. It's the kind of thing Howard whispers into your ear while you sleep, as he's dropping one of your hands into a bucket of warm water and filling the other hand with shaving cream.

Offline C. Gold

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1222
    • View Profile
    • Golden Elm Publishing
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2017, 09:11:05 PM »
Your ideas feel stupid and overdone? I think not. You need to take a baseball bat to that inner critic and whop it upside the head and tell it to go away. It can come back out to play when you finished the book and need an editor. Or if you still feel stupid, pick the worst book you'd ever wished you'd never purchased and read that really terrible passage again and tell yourself, "I can do much better than this!" ;)

500 words a day is great when holding down a job. It sounds like you are expecting too much from yourself and feeling too much guilt which is stifling your creativity which creates more guilt and a vicious cycle develops. I think it kills creativity when you try to force feed it into happening. Ease up on yourself. Not all authors are powerhouse writers. And that's ok. Three years for one book - loads of authors do that. Or you could be like GRRM, the glacier.... And that's ok too because we have HBO ;)

I have no burnout problems because I write when I want and know that I will eventually get this book finished. Finishing is my only goal. Oh, I have grand delusions of making money eventually, maybe, hopefully someday, but it's not why I write.

Online Seneca42

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1028
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2017, 11:50:28 PM »
You don't "fight" it off. You let it pass. You chill and let the batteries recharge.

That's why writing is an "art". Something that isn't an art, doesn't require creative thought. You learn how it's done and you just perform it the same way every day. 

But art... no day is the same. It's a constant process of creating something out of nothing. And that can drain you over time. When it does, you have to step back and let your brain recharge. When the creative juices are recharged, you'll have to write.

The harder you "fight" burn-out, the deeper you burn out and the longer it will take to recharge. But almost no one sees this during burn-out, all they know is they want to get their mojo back and so look for strategies to "fight" through it. I think a lot of artists actually turn to drugs for this reason (more so with musicians and actors than writers)... they burn-out but have to perform. They don't have the luxury of taking a break.

Now, in terms of recharging, there are lots of things that will speed that process up. Exercise, meditation, etc.

But when it's time to recharge, that's what you have to do.



 
« Last Edit: June 19, 2017, 11:53:42 PM by Seneca42 »

Offline Dax

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2017, 04:30:21 AM »
Oh thank god. Me too.

I don't have much to add because I'm struggling with some of the same issues, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

Come right over here and sit by me and my dirty dishes  ;D

I also wanted to address the OP again, who said that sometimes they don't want to write. From my own experience, I don't really like the actual act of fingers-on-keyboard-butt-in-chair all that much. I LOVE my characters, love worldbuilding, enjoy outlining to some degree, love thinking and daydreaming about scenes and character development and arcs, love working on covers, etc. I don't always love actually writing the darn thing. It's definitely work for me, but I LOVE having written, so I chase that. I've just gotten back and gone through some great edits on my first novel, and the thing is actually looking kind of darn good. I'm reading over it and not recoiling or wanting to hide in the corner, but saying to myself, "This is readable! This is enjoyable!" I find myself actually getting a little lost in the story as I edit and forgetting that it's even my story! Which is a great feeling.

But that feeling comes after a couple of weeks of edits that made me want to claw my EYES out. When I made my first pass at the book after finishing it - actually my first of two or three passes - I was horrified. Plot holes all over the place, all that jazz. Of course, I had emoooootions about my ability to do this, feelings of horror and repulsion at my own work, etc. I had to blunt force my way through it some days. But, I'm glad I did - I have this really decent result now that I'm actually proud of!

I think sometimes there can be a myth that creating ahhhrt needs to be this beautiful, sacred process, when sometimes it's just hideous and ugly and work and tedious and it's got a face only a mother could love. It's okay not to love writing every day. It's okay not to want to write one day. I promise you, you WILL get through it, and if you keep at it, you will have a product to be proud of in the end.

Online Sapphire

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2838
  • Gender: Female
  • Omaha NE
    • View Profile
Re: How do you fight off burn-out?
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2017, 05:24:37 AM »
Perhaps the writing ISN'T the source of your stress and burnout. In fact, I would guess it comes from another part of your life. Job? Significant other? Children? Aging parents? Personal health? Poor nutrition and lack of exercise? Financial woes? Religious or moral conflict? This is not an all-inclusive list and does not fall into any likelihood of order. You may have to dig a bit (soul searching and self honesty) to identify the source. Only then can you do something about it.


The words above sound presumptuous. I'm no psychologist or life specialist. What I have said is based on going through much of the same myself.


Buy Scrivener for Windows or Mac