by Becky Wade
Think back. Have any of your favorite authors simply stopped writing? Some may have retired at the end of a long career. But others likely quit writing because of burnout. It happens! I happened to me once. And it’s something that can stall or derail the dreams of any writer at any time.
What precautionary measures can an author take to protect her energy and her passion for her writing?
1. EMBRACE VARITEY! Tracie Peterson, author of more than ninety-five books including The Icecutter’s Daughter, says, “I juggle several projects at the same time. I am usually researching ideas for the next series or book, while plotting out the next book, while writing a completely different book. I like to switch genres from time to time, and if not genres, then definitely time periods. I also like to delve in and learn something new with each book. I love learning and that always seems to keep my mind refreshed.”
2. PRIORITIZE. Place your writing above other opportunities available to writers like blogging, social media, interviews, and articles. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll have little left over for your novel.
3. PRACTICE EXTREME CARE WHEN SETTING YOUR DEADLINES. There should be a businessperson and an artist living inside the body of every writer. Never let one bully the other. The artist shouldn’t bully the businessperson into unprofessionalism. Nor should the businessperson bully the artist into deadlines set too close together. If a writer falls into this trap, the artist within will suffer, and if the artist suffers, then so will the quality of the work.
4. TAKE REGULAR TIME OFF. This is difficult in this technological age when we’re able to take our work with us everywhere. Ann Tatlock, author of ten novels including Sweet Mercy says, “To keep from burning out, I try to keep Sunday as a day of rest. I don’t allow myself to write a single word. I try not to even think about my manuscript (though that can be difficult!). Just by taking that one day off, I’m much more refreshed and ready to get back to it on Monday.”
5. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOUR CREATIVITY. Beware of demanding a daily amount of words or pages from yourself if that’s not how your creativity flourishes. If it’s fun and beneficial for you to set a daily goal, then great. If it makes your writing feel like drudgery or if it depresses you when you don’t meet your goal — ditch it! Some of us experience more joy in our work and more output when we follow our own internal motivation instead of the computer’s word count or page count.
6. DON’T READ YOUR REVIEWS if reading them has the potential to injure you. If an author receives ten wonderful reviews and one negative, it’s the negative one that will stick with him, bother him, hurt his feelings, make him angry. Negative reviews can steal our enjoyment of our work and/or distract us to the point that it renders the day’s writing time ineffective.
7. MAKE TIME FOR INSPIRATION. In order to generate creative output, your mind and heart need creative input. Carve out hours in your schedule to pursue things that inspire you. (Reading, movies, nature, time with writer friends). In our busyness, we often cut out time for inspiration because it seems expendable. But for writers, inspiration is fuel. Without fuel, we’ll burnout.
Have you experienced burnout? How do you protect your creativity?
Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children. Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, has been nominated for a RITA award. Her new contemporary romance, Undeniably Yours, releases today!