Do you ever have those times where you’re pounding out words for hour after hour and then—kaboom. All that is left of your brain is a couple of smoky remnants.
That is what I call a burnout.
It’s like all your creativity has turned to ashes and your imagination is in the slush pile on a publisher’s office desk (aka also ashes). The only sound that comes out of your mouth is a strangled sort of “Uggggghhhh.” Sometimes coupled with “Heeeeeeelllppppp.”
I speak from personal experience.
Obviously, this situation isn’t ideal, but in the middle of writing all the words it’s hard not to panic and wonder how in the world to avoid such an outcome.
Never fear, I have come with three
cheesy tips that everyone has probably heard already very useful tips from my experiences of past burnouts.
1: Give yourself Breaks.
You’ve heard it before—breaks are good for you. The human body needs to eat and drink and sleep enough otherwise it turns into a radioactive glowy thing and blowtorches a national monument. Or at least turns into a zombie. Breaks don’t have to be day-long either, they can be hours or even just minutes. They can do so much to save your sanity, no matter how short they are.
Maybe you really want to get up to that nice even number before you go to bed, but the clock is moving toward 2 am…Bed. Bed is better, my friend. I speak from experience.
Unless of course you want to fall asleep while writing and maybe keep writing even while you’re asleep. If so, please continue, but I want to see the words you wrote, because when I’ve done that in the past it’s turned out to be some of the craziest and hilariously funniest words ever. 😛
Another thing I find incredibly important is…exercise. *writer gasps* Yes, I know. The dreaded activity. 😉 Moving around from your computer keeps your mental and physical health up and it’ll be waay easier to write when you come back again. Personally I don’t like sitting still for long periods of time and I like to get up and practice some mock-combat against an invisible enemy, or go outside, or vacuum those carpets that I forgot to do three days ago. (Oops.)
Last year I did NaNo for the first time and I didn’t do anything but write. I slammed out words constantly, stayed up past midnight, forgot to eat lunch, and generally didn’t look after myself at all. When I finished my novel on the 22nd of the month, I collapsed. I slept a lot, didn’t eat very much, had basically no energy for the next few weeks. It wasn’t cool.
Don’t do what past-Jane did. Look after yourself.
2: Don’t murder your enthusiasm with towering, impossible goals.
Don’t get me wrong, goals are good, but don’t let them consume your soul. I thrive off challenges, and NaNo’s 50k is enough to nudge me on in writing words. However for others it can be a huge goal that’s just ‘too impossible.’ And that’s realistic for some. If you have a full time job, exams at school, lots of things on you can’t spend as much time writing, and that looming goal can do the opposite of what it’s meant to do. It’s meant to encourage you on, not repeatedly stab your enthusiasm until it’s a zombie too.
It might be better for yourself if you lower your goal to something that will challenge you, but in a fun way.
3: Don’t stress. Writing is for the Joy of it. Not for pounding your brain into mush.
This basically says it all. Don’t whack your brain against the keyboard until your brain is mush. Don’t run around screaming in panic. Keep a focus on why you write.
I write because I enjoy it, and I want to use the gift God has given me to bless others. I can get discouraged sometimes, or feel like I’m a failure because I’m falling behind on my goals, but over and over and over again God gives me the nudge. “Hey Jane, what are you doing? Don’t forget, you’re not doing this by yourself.” Over and over again I facepalm, wonder how I could’ve forgotten again, and take a deep breath and commit it all to him. Over. and. over. and. over.
Don’t lose focus on the goal. And by ‘goal’ I don’t mean ‘that overwhelming 50k’ or whatever other number you have ahead. I mean the real goal. The goal of giving glory to God in every single moment.
Chat with me! Why do you write? What sort of things do you do to stop your brain from becoming zombie-mush?