by Colleen M. Story
We’re coming to the end of the year—which means you may be feeling writer’s burnout.
Even a regular year of writing can be taxing. Add in a book launch (or two?), NaNoWriMo, and a few challenges on your WIP, and you may be thinking that you’d be just fine if you never wrote again!
But don’t worry. That’s the weariness talking. And weariness—even if it’s creeping into burnout—can be fixed with the right kind of rest.
Try the following suggestions and see if, by the time the new year comes around, you don't feel ready to pick up the pen (or keyboard) again.
1. Get Some Extra Sleep
Most of the time, you have to tend to the body first. Trying to restore your mind, emotions, and creativity while you’re still dragging around physically doesn’t work.
Writers are consistently up against deadlines and expectations. It’s common to end up at the end of the year feeling physically exhausted.
If you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in a while, you’re getting sick more often, or you’re experiencing more aches and pains than usual, you need this type of rest.
Solution: Take some time to tend to your sleep routine. Make sure you have a comfortable, quality mattress (they should be replaced every 5-8 years usually), that your room is cool and quiet, and that you keep all technology (including televisions) out of the bedroom.
Then incorporate a daily stretching routine or yoga practice to ease muscle tension. Finally, give yourself at least a weekend to rest as much as you need to. Use naps as much as you like!
2. Give Your Brain a Break
Writing takes a lot of brain power. We have to keep our settings, characters, timelines, and plotlines straight, and then we have to make sure we reach all our editing, publishing, and marketing deadlines.
After a year of writing, marketing, and book launching, your brain needs a break. Sleep will help, but it’s not enough.
If you suffering from brain fog and you’re taking longer than usual to get your projects done, you need this type of rest.
Solution: Try meditating, crafting, coloring, and long walks. Then schedule at least half a day once or twice a week to banish browsing and let your brain veg out. Rekindle your love of daydreaming.
3. Cater to Your Feelings
The writing life is a roller coaster. We all feel the ups and downs. Writing acceptance! Writing rejection. Great review! Poor review. A day in the writing flow. A day of writer’s block.
If you’ve spent the year “sucking it up” through a variety of disappointments, you need this type of rest.
Solution: Share your feelings in a journal. Establish and maintain boundaries with other people. Take a step back from demanding relationships for a while. Do what makes you feel happy. Be self-indulgent! Grant yourself a day to do anything you want without guilt.
Then go back and re-read all the positive comments and reviews you’ve received on your writing.
4. Court Your Muse
After a year of writing and marketing, your creative muse may have gone into hiding. We expect it to always be there for us, but sometimes we ask too much of it and it naturally withdraws.
If you’re suffering from writer’s block or can’t come up with a new idea to save you, you need this kind of rest.
Solution: Get involved in activities that inspire you. Spend some time in nature. Allow yourself to experience beauty in any form. Expose yourself to some fine art or good music. Spend a day trying on outfits you love. Spruce up your writing nook so it feels more conducive to creativity.
If you like, try writing something completely different than you usually do: a children’s story, poem, or personal essay.
5. Shut Out the World
Particularly if you’re an introverted writer, you could be suffering from sensory overload. All the interacting on social media, book signings, conference going, and other demands of the writing life can have you craving a dark room and lots of alone time.
If you’re more irritable than usual or feel like your nerves are on end, you need this type of rest.
Solution: Indulge your inner mole. Shut yourself away from the world for a day or more if you can. Take a weekend to curl up with a good book or rent a cabin by the lake where all you’ll hear in the morning are the birds. Silence can be incredibly restorative.
NOTE: Through December 2022, all of Colleen's writing ebooks are on sale for only $2.99 or less! Get your copies here. You can also find free chapters of her book and a free giveaway here.
Colleen M. Story is a novelist, freelance writer, writing coach, and speaker with over 20 years in the creative writing industry. Her latest release, The Beached Ones, is from CamCat Books. Her novel, Loreena’s Gift, was a Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, among others.
Colleen has written three books to help writers succeed. Your Writing Matters is the most recent, and was a bronze medal winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards (2022). Other award-winning titles include Writer Get Noticed! and Overwhelmed Writer Rescue. Enjoy free chapters of these books here.
Find more at her author website (colleenmstory.com) or connect with her on Twitter (@colleen_m_story) and LinkedIn.
I think this post might have been written for me, ha! I was just thinking yesterday that I feel burned out. Thanks for the tips. :)
Thanks Colleen! Hope this helps writers avoid the burnout this month.
Some good suggestions. I think taking a drive/walk is what usually helps. And sometimes it's good to ask yourself what you really want to work on, not for "the market" but just for yourself.
@ Alex and Colleen - looking after ourselves is the imperative ... not always easy with family ... Fortunately with the great blogging friends we have ... I write my posts when I can; though I have no book deadlines etc ... I just admire everyone who's writing for publication.
Cheers to you both and your families - have a happy time and here's to a good New Year - Hilary
Thanks, Alex and everyone! I'm feeling a bit burned out myself this year so I'm pursuing some of these forms of rest this month. Wishing you all a happy holiday season and some time to rest, recover, and recharge!
Such an interesting post! Thanks for sharing :)
Ben | Infinitely Posh.
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