Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writing and Burn OUT

I've said this to quite a number of people, but I've had it shoved into my face that I need to practice what I preach...namely take breaks.

I've been working so hard on doing the edits that I burned out. Kaputz. I've warned my CP partner, other twitter friends, anyone who says they're having a hard time. I say to these wonderful people, maybe you need a REAL break.

What do I mean by that? I don't mean a break networking, or socializing for your book or writing your blog, or doing housework (unless that unlikely chore will help bring your stress level down), or doing your taxes. I mean a BREAK.

do something that you enjoy. Talk to friends on twitter cuz you can. Play hearts online. Go see a family member. Do a hobby. Go Exercise. I'm not the only writer who knows you need to exercise, but I think we forget! Something I was doing and fell out of the habit was stopping writing every half hour to hour, depending on the flow, and getting up and cleaning. I picked up stuff the children had made a mess of, started a load of laundry, watered plants, etc. It's been harder since homeschooling since I'm already stopping every five minutes to either help them or referee or make them work.

After my daughter was hospitalized, I completely fell out of the habit. I was just too exhausted. Plus, I wasn't doing much else. I wrote, I edited, I cleaned, I played with the kids a little and I stressed. I didn't take time for me.

I opened an Etsy shop to help bring money in cuz things are so tight. This has forced me to do a little bit of artistic things, but not a lot. Photoshopping some of my photos has helped, then I started making bookmarks. I had to design them. Find the paper, find stickers/punches, make tassels, decide on beads all kinds of things. I even have done a little drawing on a couple. All of the sudden I remembered.

"Oh yeah, take a break, stupid!" I'm creative in a lot of ways. I paint, I draw (not my strong suite!), I scrapbook, I sew, I crochet, I crossstitch. Now you will notice something there--a lot of I's. They were left there on purpose. Remember to take care of you--not just everyone else. I can do a lot, but I wasn't doing anything for "I" that relieved my stress.

Plus, something I've learned over the last year or so is that if I exclusively work on one artistic skill to the exclusion of all others for too long, I will lose it. Temporarily to be sure. But my mind will shut down.

For instance: I've done a LOT of plays. I've been in them, helped build sets, and I've made so many costumes that I get woozy thinking about it. When it gets time for dress rehearsal, I'm usually trying to frantically finish them up since I usually don't have enough time from purchasing of material until day it starts. Anyway, if I spend weeks only sewing in between doing quickie no brainer meals, and do little to no writing, I will start making mistakes in my sewing, get headaches and be unable to do easy problem solve things. I apparently need to do the variety of projects to feed all parts of my brain!

Another instance: Recently, between daughter's illness, homeschooling, children's regression issues, potty training and being unable to find my meds, writing has been a grab and go. I've been printing and laminating for etsy but not doing a whole lot on the creative end until recently. All of the writing I've been doing plus the following edits, I've not left time to do any other projects. And my brain shut down.

So, I'm fixing that. I'm getting my exercise cleaning house and doing yard work. Taking my damned meds (I take thyroid meds. I had both thyroids removed from cancer so have to have them to function. Believe me when I say not finding my meds even for a day can be a major focusing issue!) and making time to do other things.

I made more bookmarks, crocheted a couple of washcloths, have more to make, and I'm going to work on more writing skills. All of these things so I can continue to write and do the work.

Writing is a job. Like any job, you need to take breaks from it. 15 min. Eat. Stretch, do more than one aspect, like the social networking, blogging, as well as the editing and writing. And most importantly. Don't forget to take whole days off. Days where your mind and body can rest.

Now don't let those days turn into weeks (unless it's a planned vacation LOL) and don't be lazy. Do your goals and what you want. You want to write five days a week, then do it. It's your goals and your dreams, just be sure that you take care of yourself. You'll be surprised at how rejuvenating even getting out to pull some weeds and plant some tomatoes can be. :D


  1. Very, very good advice. Does getting up to go get a cookie count?

  2. I needed to read this. I like this line: "Don't forget to take whole days off."
    Thanks for finding the time to post this.

  3. Great reminder! The one thing I remember is exercise. I have to because my stress gets too high without it. It's like medication to me. Without breaks, my writing suffers, so I try to look at it as a another writing tool!

  4. @Melanie LOL I'd count it :D It's a happy break. Double counts if it's chocolate in any way shape or form :D

    @Tara You're welcome! We all need to remember the brain needs rest as well! As one of my twitter friends' son said, we need to "turn off our frontal lobes" once in a while LOL

    @Michele You are awesome at exercising. I wish I had your drive and energy for it! You're right, it's another writing tool!