Three Ways to Avoid a Writing Burnout

by | 24 November 2017 | Writing | 10 comments

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? 

Jane Maree

Jane Maree

Jane Maree is an Australian writer, adventurer at heart, beloved daughter of the King of Kings, and believer in at least six impossible things before breakfast. Raised on fairy tales, scraped knees, and makeshift swords, she has yet to outgrow any of them. In her day job, Jane teaches music and freelances as an editor, but by night she crafts daring stories of broken heroes overcoming extraordinary odds.


  1. Jenna

    awesome post and great reminder to me! sometimes i’ll just write and write and then feel spent.
    i love how your faith shines through in your personality, jane! 🙂 <3
    i write because 1) i love it! 2) because i think there needs to be more clean Christian young adult books out there, and i want to contribute. 🙂

    • Jane Maree

      I’m so glad! I do the same sometimes, and it’s always good to have a little prompting reminder.
      Aw, thank you. ^.^
      Those are two brilliant reasons to write! I definitely concur that there needs to be more good YA books.

      • Jenna

        yeah, check out their name might throw you off, but they’re rebelling against the idea that teens have to rebel against their parents. they do a blog about writing and post a lot of book reviews judging cleanness. you can even submit book reviews if you want! 😉

        • Jane Maree

          Oh yep yep, I’ve heard of them. I was actually asked to be a part of the team but I didn’t have enough time to spare. They’re a pretty cool organisation!

          • Jenna

            that’s so cool you were asked to be part of the team though! *sighs* sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day…..

            • Jane Maree

              It was one of the really cool things that I had to say no to. :/ Oh well, they’re doing amazingly.

  2. J.A.Penrose

    Well, writing burnout really isn’t much fun. Thanks for the reminder and for the personal experiences in there too.
    Writing for a reason is always good. And we always need more books. So, people writing them and not getting burnout is good too! Great post Jane!

    • Jane Maree

      Noo, writing burnouts aren’t fun at all.
      You’re absolutely welcome! Keep up the good writing. 🙂

  3. MiddleEarthMusician

    Great post, Jane!!!!! I get writing burnouts sometimes, and I find the biggest thing that helps me is definitely taking breaks. 😀

    • Jane Maree

      Same. Breaks are life savers sometimes.

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