Learning how to deal with burnout can be particularly helpful if you're attempting to be an every day writer like myself. This week has been particularly trying for me on my 365 day writing challenge and at first I wasn't sure why. I didn't feel as excited or motivated as I had previously felt to get up early and write. I also felt a lot of internal friction when it came to tasks like housework and exercise. What I eventually realized was that these were clearly the symptoms of burnout. Now, normal folks having this issue deal with it by trying to hold onto their productivity until a vacation or a break. With me and other people who are similarly trying to be creative every day, a break isn't possible. So, how else can you deal with burnout?
First of all, it's important to be kind to yourself. If you have gone from producing at a high level to medium or low productivity, don't beat yourself up about it. When you're feeling tired and fried, the last thing you need to do is feel sorry for yourself. Think about the work you've completed so far instead of what you have in front of you. Be grateful for your accomplishment so far, because it will take off some of the pressure you've been putting on yourself.
Next, while it's important to de-stress when you deal with burnout, it's equally necessary to choose the right method for de-stressing. One bad habit I tend to fall into is playing video games to relax. Because these games (or Internet videos, TV shows, etc.) are so stimulating, they don't truly allow you to reduce your stress. These methods may even stress you out more. Much more effective is a walk around the block, a meditation or yoga session, a few minutes to write down your thoughts, a chat in person with an encouraging friend or a power nap.
Lastly, since when you deal with burnout, bad habits seem to crop up physically or emotionally, it's important to stick to or creative positive new habits. When I can feel a burnout coming on, I try to get a full eight hours of sleep, eat more fruits and vegetables, keep my office incredibly tidy and check in with my extended family and friends. Enforcing these positive aspects of my life keeps me in high spirits until the burnout passes. It's also important to look back and remember what good habits have helped you in the past. For instance, before I had an office, I used to go to a particular coffee shop to get work done. Now, if I run into productivity trouble (a.k.a. cabin fever), I know that I can get a cup of hot chocolate and punch out some more prompts or blog posts there if needed.
I'm very excited to see if I can stave off burnout to make it 365 days of writing 2,500 words per day. I will personally be referring back to these major how to deal with burnout tips for sure. Happy writing!
Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.