What do you do when your brain is on burnout?
Oh, wow, I am feeling this one hard this month. After debuting and immediately jumping into a second (third? fourth?) round of revisions on the companion novel to CTNFTW all while trying to balance day job and life things, I have to say…I am tired, friends.
Do I know the secret to handling writer burnout? (or general life burnout?) I wish I did. But I do have some coping mechanisms that help me.
They might help you too.
Burnout is something we all experience, no matter where we stand with our stories. We all get tired sometimes; we all know what it's like to run out of energy, especially after the last few years. (Hell, the last few days.)
There are lots of blogs and posts about burnout and falling in and out of love with writing so I thought it might be helpful to lay out some steps that help me when I feel the burnout beginning to fray my edges.
Step 1. Do small, easy things that make you happy.
I keep a little box of jelly beans by my laptop that I often snack from during the day. I like to eat healthy, but I just love those little things and I know a little indulgence can go a long way.
When I'm exhausted and tired from balancing zoom meetings and trying to revise on my lunch break, I reach for the jelly beans. It's such a small thing. But the little bit of sugar helps. And they're delicious enough to raise my mood a few bars.
This step doesn't have to be a food thing! It could be watching your fave TV show for twenty minutes or playing a low-stakes video game (looking at you, Animal Crossing). You could re-read parts of a favorite book. Listen to a Taylor Swift or K-pop or any favorite album on repeat. Just something easy that you can enjoy.
Step 2. Repeat step 1. As many times as necessary.
Some days I eat a lot of jelly beans and listen to a lot of K-pop, what can I say?
Step 3. Be gentle on yourself.
Take a break. Whether you've got self imposed deadlines or have other ones looming, ask for an extension. Pushing yourself on empty won't be beneficial to your story in the long run. Go easy on yourself. The world is chaotic and unpredictable. It's important to take breathers. To do what your mental health needs. If that means pushing a deadline, your story will be better off for it in the long run. You only have so much creativity at a time. When it all gets used up, you need to take a breather and let your creative well refill.
Step 4. Revisit step 2 (and step 3) whenever necessary.
Seriously y’all. A lot of jelly beans.
You write, you create, for a reason. If you're losing sight of that reason, then maybe it's time rejuvenate, to refresh. The reason will find it's way back you, you just have to give it a chance.