Coping with Burnout: Eight Cures for Writer’s Block

by Renee Rose

Woman holding a typewriter and avoiding  burnout

(c) 123rf Stock Photos

I have this auto-immune condition, one of the rheumatoid arthritis syndromes.  When I have a flare-up, I get pink eye (in both eyes), my joints seize and I feel heavier than a ton of bricks. It’s a lame condition for someone of my temperament. I’m a dancer, for one thing, so arthritic joints totally screw up my ability to teach classes. Secondly, I’m the kind of person who never stops. So I don’t appreciate the interruption, especially when I can’t see my damn computer screen to type!

I’m in the middle of a flare-up now, and my friend pointed out that maybe it was a sign for me to give myself a break. She reminded me how I had been complaining about feeling burnout about my writing lately anyway.  Maybe it was all a sign. She suggested I give myself a week to a week and a half off, and then see where I was.

As it turned out, it was good advice. As soon as I took the pressure off myself to be glued to my computer, the blahs went away. Sometimes we just need permission not to write to find your mojo. I compiled a list of things that have helped me when I’m stuck. Let me know if you have other ones, too.

Eight ideas for coping with burnout:

1).  Give yourself a prescribed time period off  from writing (but don’t be surprised if you come back to it sooner than the end point).

2).  Read something new– a new author, new genre or different kind of story. You may find inspiration in it.

3).  Get outside. Take a hike, a walk, or go swimming. Physical activity and the outdoors change up our energy.

4).  Work on promotion instead of writing.  You don’t know where your story’s going?  Fine, go spend 30 minutes tweeting, or networking or some other form of marketing for your back list.

5). Go see a movie, or better yet, have a movie binge. I almost always find inspiration in movies.

6).  Read one of your old stories that you love. It will remind you how kick-ass a writer you are.

7).  Offer to beta read for a friend–editing to me is so much easier than writing, yet I feel productive doing it, and it helps me learn about my own craft.

8).  Relax. The more pressure you put on yourself, the worse it gets. Take time for yourself– get a massage, manicure, new haircut or whatever feels indulgent to you. Tell yourself you deserve it– you’ve been working hard and this is your off time.

What method do you have for coping with burnout?  I’d love to hear them!  


Comment List

  • Cara Bristol 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

    As much as you write, the burnout doesn’t surprise me. I’ve wondered how long you could maintain the pace. So far, my life has taken care of burnout. My husband and I seem to schedule some kind of trip every 3,4, 6 months, during which time I’m unable to write. So I get a forced vacation from writing.

    • Renee Rose 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

      Yes, I suppose it was bound to happen at some point. mandatory vacation would be good for me!!

  • Stevie MacFarlane 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

    Great post. Sorry you haven’t been feeling well. I so get the auto-immune thing. Currently I have three separate conditions and they kick my butt on a regular basis. The fatigue is so annoying! We want to do way more than our bodies will allow. Taking a break from writing is a great way to recharge and reduce stress, as long as your mind will let you. I’m always thinking I should be writing, posting, blogging etc and then before I know it I’m more depressed than I was when I started. For me what works is forcing myself to write every day. Even if it’s only a paragraph or two it keeps me connected to my characters and the story. If I literally can’t get to my pc, I make little memory jogging notes on my phone.

    • Renee Rose 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

      Yes, I think we put so much pressure on ourselves. There’s always something to be doing!!

  • Rachel de Vine 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

    I have great sympathy, Renee. My Mum had rheumatoid arthritis and I, after a lifetime of farming, have osteo arthritis in almost all my joints. They are conditions I would not visit on anyone, even my worst enemy. I also have fibromyalgia, so pain is the default position. I hope that you have good support around you to help you cope.

    About your suggestions for burnout, I would agree with all those. A little TLC goes a long way, and a break from the computer is just what you need to help re-charge the batteries. In effect, you need to be kind to yourself.

    Good luck with the RA.

    • Renee Rose 15 / 06 / 2015 Reply

      Thank you so much, Rachel! I’m sorry you’re suffering with fibromyalgia arthritis!!

  • Kallista Dane 16 / 06 / 2015 Reply

    I know you’re a young Mom too and that alone creates its own kind of burnout! Putting your needs first sometimes is hard to do but it’s so important. I try to take 1-2 days a week off from the business of writing, including social media and promo, just like I would in any other job.

    I agree with Rachel’s advice – be kind to yourself.

    • Renee Rose 16 / 06 / 2015 Reply

      Taking a day off would be good for me! I tend to get a little obsessive.

  • Lillyanna 16 / 06 / 2015 Reply

    Hi Renee,

    I too suffer from an autoimmune arthritis and systemic lupus… So I get it. Seems like there is a lot of that around blog land. I also have two young children.

    I’ve only published one book and already I’m feeling “stuck” on my next story. It is really a lot of work all the networking and marketing. I think the writing is really my favorite part.

    Summer is almost here and I’m strongly considering focusing on the kids as my priority and getting back into writing and blogging more when they are both in school all day for the first in the fall.

    I hope your feeling better. If you ever want to talk I’m an email away<3

    • Renee Rose 16 / 06 / 2015 Reply

      Thank you, Lillyanna, that is so sweet of you!! I agree, it’s easier to just surrender to summer and the kids than to get frustrated about the lack of writing time, etc!!

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