J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

Burnout is a very real thing. Once you’ve been working on something for a long period of time (whether it’s a book, an art project, or anything, really) you can hit a point where you just can’t do it anymore. Even the thought of looking at your manuscript makes you exhausted. It’s difficult — but definitely not impossible — to get out of a burnout-rut. I just recently had a bit of burnout for my newest book, Missing Her, and I’m happy to say that I’m out of the worst of it. They say that you learn most from the painful things in our lives, and I’d like to share five tips I’ve learned for making the burnout process a little less difficult.

1. Work on something else

With large processes like writing a book, there’s always something to do to help the progression of your work — even if it’s not writing the actual book. You can be working on promo art, sending emails for booking signings or review-swaps, posting on your social media, or even writing a blog post! Even if you’re burned out with the actual writing of the book,  see if you can find the energy to work on other parts of the project. That way, you’re still being productive and not just sitting in front of your computer getting frustrated with your brain for not doing its thing.

2. Return to what brought you first inspiration

I don’t know about you, but there’s always one thing that gets me pumped to work on my book. For The Scavenger it was one particular song, “Reverie” by The Morning Of, that just fit my book perfectly. For Missing Her, it was reading a passage from a book that inspired the creation of the story (I’ll talk more about that book later). Sometimes, when you’re knee-deep in a project, you can forget the reason you started it. When this happens, it’s important to look back and find the happiness that originally set you working on the project in the first place. That’s sometimes enough to help you pick up your head and keep working.

3. Change scenery

Sometimes, you don’t have time to take a break. The thing that’s burning you out might be an assignment with a deadline quickly approaching, you might need to keep powering through in order to finish it on time. If that’s the case, then you might want to try changing the location of where you’re working. I find that when I work in one place for a long period of time, I can get worn-out of the location. If you have no other choice but to keep working, then try moving around a bit and see what inspiration you can find elsewhere.

4. Set mini-goals for yourself and build-up

Another thing that helps me through a period of burnout is setting goals and rewards for myself. Sometimes, the satisfaction of seeing the word count isn’t enough of an incentive for me to work. Sometimes, I need a little something more. That’s when I break out the cookies or coffee or Netflix. Set realistic goals for yourself (“realistic” is key) and then give yourself a treat. Make the reward equivalent to the goal; for example, say that if you write for thirty minutes, you get an episode of Friends. But don’t set a reward like write for fifteen minutes and then binge an entire season of The Office. Make sure that the amount of reward is akin to the amount of work.

5. Be patient

The most important thing to remember when you hit burnout is that it’s not your fault. Burnout happens to everyone, and you need to be patient with yourself. Sure, it’s frustrating when you want to work on something and you just can’t muster up the strength to do it. But the struggle will pass and you’ll be back to working again in no time. 🙂

Have you ever experienced burnout? Do you have any additional tips on how to deal with it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Just keep writing, just keep writing . . .

— Julia

2 thoughts on “So You’ve Hit Burnout … Now What?

  1. jon287 says:

    I find taking a break from my projects is so healthy- recharges my internal battery


  2. lauraw32 says:

    Great suggestions! I especially liked the idea of rewarding with cookies! I’m also intrigued as to your inspiration for Missing Her…..


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