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March 6, 2019

Writer Burnout

Hi dreamers!

As some of you know, I didn’t blog at all last week because I had a week-long migraine. My doctor prescribed new meds on Friday that seem to be working great, but they make me really sleepy. Yesterday, I was supposed to write the long-awaited post on Disney’s publishing company… it didn’t happen because I came home and took a nap. I napped until bedtime. I felt really guilty about not posting, though. This brings me to today’s post on burnout.

What is Burnout?

The word “burnout” is thrown around quite a bit, and we all have a vague idea of what it means. It’s that feeling of mental and physical feeling of exhaustion that comes with being overwhelmed by work, school, family, friends, etc. We most commonly associate it with work and career, though, but I feel like this is unfair because I felt it in other situations, like:

  • When family drama gets prolonged for months and you really don’t want to go out with them because you don’t want to hear about it anymore.
  • When your friend has relationship issues and you’re sick of hearing her break-up and get back together with this one guy just to moan at you about how awful he is.
  • Finals at school with 3 projects and 5 papers due in one day.
  • And… Writer’s block.

Writer Burnout

I firmly believe that writer’s block is another form of burnout. That feeling when you stare at an empty page and nothing comes. You feel like your writer brain is broken and writing becomes a chore.

Last summer I called my dad back home and told him I wanted to quit writing. I was convinced I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I couldn’t find a job with my fancy new writing degree. I was convinced I wasn’t good enough. I was homesick and I felt like I failed and the last thing I wanted to do was sit down at my computer and write, blog, or work on anything. It was the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever had and it scared the pants off me!

Overcoming Burnout

So there I was, my characters had stopped talking to me, and my head felt eerily silent. I was completely convinced that my manuscript was going to sit in my computer folder half finished forever and I was coming to terms with that. I felt really lost.

And then I got a job… and my characters came back. In fact, my characters have been more talkative with me in the last 2 months then they were all four years of my college career. My job isn’t writing, in fact, I’m a contract worker doing data entry. But I don’t feel like I’m drowning or failing. I’m not saying a job will fix writer’s block, but for me that was my big overwhelming stressor and then it was gone. This opened my mind to be free to wander and my imagination to fly again.

The thing I figured out is I had burned myself out being overwhelmed with everything else in my life. I also figured out if I force myself to do something it’s not going to happen, my brain doesn’t work like that. So one of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder to myself. I’m letting myself have days where I reschedule blog posts and take a break from my novel because I get more done in the long run that way. The guilty feeling… I’m working on telling it to shut up.

Do you ever feel burnout? Let me know in the comments!


11 Comments on “Writer Burnout

melissawoods1976
March 6, 2019 at 9:34 pm

I can so relate right now. I am in the midst of a move, a full course load, and revising two novels. One is a first draft, which I’m reading through and realizing how hard revision is and how I am starting all over again. Another is a book I’m on contract for that should be published this year and I AM excited, but I hope I can make it good enough. It’s all very anxiety provoking and I’ve been thinking about setting the 1st draft novel aside, but felt guilty about it. Now I think that really might be the best thing to do while I concentrate on my debut and school.

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Brigid Downey
March 6, 2019 at 9:37 pm

Just remember that you’re mental health comes before anything ☺️

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singerofstories
March 6, 2019 at 10:53 pm

I’m so burnt out I can’t even read properly. I read the title of this post as “Winter Burnout.” Oops! Well, so now that I have read the whole post and know what is really going on here….YES, I have experienced burnout, even though I’m not exactly a writer, just a human being, so just a LIFE burnout. But I do think you’re right–a huge part of overcoming this problem is self care and being kind to oneself. Taking time to relax and step away from things. Just be alone for a little bit. Or if being alone is the problem, then intentionally be around people. That always refreshes me.

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Brigid Downey
March 26, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Winter burnout is also a thing! I get so much more burnout in the winter

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Jayati
March 7, 2019 at 7:27 am

Glad you found a way to cure your burnout! For me, usually just taking a break and going out with friends helps. I usually end up discussing it with them and that helps me sort it all out.
Great post! xx

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Brigid Downey
March 7, 2019 at 11:16 am

Thanks! I’m trying some new post types out! I’m glad you liked it!

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Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites
March 7, 2019 at 5:26 pm

oof to migraines, but glad to hear you’re feeling better now ?

burnout absolutely can affect other areas of life, I agree with you on that point! it’s especially awful in creative fields, especially when it’s such a big part of your identity ? I’ve never thought about how it might be impacted by other stressors, but that makes total sense – definitely something I’ll need to think about (and make plans for) going forward.

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Brigid Downey
March 7, 2019 at 5:52 pm

I had a friend who was dealing so hard with another friend’s mental health that she didn’t take care of herself. She burned out pretty bad and me and her BF had to pull her back up after the friend ditched her because she finally refused to keep helping him if he wouldn’t seek professional help. That’s why I mention stuff like that to make people think about other toxic areas of their lives and how that might be affecting them mentally.

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Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites
March 7, 2019 at 5:57 pm

that sounds like an awful experience, and I’m sorry to hear you and your friend had to go through that ? it’s definitely important to keep in mind, though.

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Brigid Downey
March 7, 2019 at 5:59 pm

She’s doing a lot better now. This was nearly a year ago. She’s doing really well now actually, she’s in culinary school and made my graduation cake. (that’s the it gets better part of that story 🙂 )

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Brigid Downey
March 26, 2019 at 7:54 pm

I’m glad this helped. I do a lot of thinking about my mental stability and tracking so I notice a lot of connections I wouldn’t have thought of.

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