Thursday, September 01, 2011

Burned Out

I have a secret. One I am loath to admit, even to myself. Somewhere, buried deep in the recesses of my mind, a voice asks a very simple question: "Why don't you quit?"

Quickly and quietly, I push that horrid little voice away. Yet, a seed has been planted and helplessly the evidence rolls out before me. I have been avoiding anything and everything (outside my day-job) pertaining to writing. Avoiding all the great little blogs, twitter posts, and even (gasp) the chair... (Yes, that is the red glow of shame creeping up my neck and cheeks.) At first glance, I was convinced I was not "passionate" or "committed" enough to this writer thing and perhaps it was time to throw in the towel.

But, I remembered something said to me after I had been on my day-job for about five years. When I questioned where it could lead me long term, someone suggested I had grown bored and should find a way to challenge myself. I believe they were right. I was burned out and searching for a way to remedy it.

After a closer look at myself, I believe the same is true now of my writing. I'm simply burned out. Over-stressed, impossibly high expectations for myself, limited time, plus. All can contribute to burnout. There are some great posts about the signs and remedies of burnout here and here. All this to say, if you're like me and question your commitment and passion for writing, consider whether you're simply burned out before putting down your pen for good.


Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Kat! And don't you dare give up. You tell wonderful stories and I want to read them through to THE END!

But, I DO understand that feeling of wondering if it is all worth it. I think all writers do. There are times when I just can't face looking at the computer screen another minute. And when I try to do something else I feel guilty because I'm not writing.

When that happens I try to remind myself of the reason I started this in the first place. TO TELL THE STORY !!

The story is the thing first, last and always. Not trying to get an agent. Not trying to get a publisher. Not trying to make a living at it. JUST the story.

It isn't easy and it doesn't always work, but sometimes I tell myself "These characters came to you and told you a little of their story and the only way you get to hear the end of the story is if you write it." Sort of weeds out the stories I think someone else might want to read from the ones I WANT to read. My enthusiasm for those seems to be greater.

Jolene Perry said...

I think we all occasionally push ourselves too hard.

Carla Swafford said...

Kat, I believe sometimes we get so wrapped up in seeing how other people become successful (blogging, entering contests, tweeting, etc.), we think we're a failure because we've done the same without the same results or we think we're not doing enough. So trying to do what everyone else is doing can wear out a person.

So this is when you step back and think. Am I writing what I love to read? If the answer is yes, you're on the right path. A simple path that you don't need to worry about who did what to get where you want to be.

Does that make sense?

Cari Hislop said...

Thanks for that great post, I needed that! I went off and read the first link. Gosh that list of burnout symptoms is way too familiar, but I've been pretending I'm not the problem. I'm going to start my recovery by clearing my desk of rubbish. It's good to be reminded of the tools we can use to put emotional gas into our writing tanks. I LOVE writing historical romances, but I have other kinds of novels waiting to be written. I wonder if what I really want is to be writing one of each. In the meantime maybe I'll be able to relax and finish my book which thankfully is still making me laugh. I keep focusing on problems outside my control, but I think that's just been another way of sabotaging myself.

Lexi said...

Writing is a relationship. There are ups and downs in any relationship and sometimes we just can't stand another person we're in a relationship with, even if that other person happens to be our creative selves. It's okay to have doubts and feelings of unhappiness. Don't despair. The pendulum will swing back the other way and you will be in love with your muse again. Besides, you have a lot going on, with a full time job and children. Why do you think there aren't more famous composers and writers from centuries past? Women are just as creative, but we've ALWAYS had to multi task. You will get there. Keep the faith. ;-)

Fred Arceneaux said...

I believe we as writers have all faced the challenge to keep going. The story burns inside us almost demanding to be written to completion. Everytime I feel like I should chuck the whole thing my story forces me to get back to my computer and bring the story to the reality of printed words. Kat you are NOT alone. Never give up.

Christine said...

I decided that I wanted to take a break on the push for publication and refocus my energy on strengthening my craft. I have come close, soooo close, in the past few months, but noooooooo cigar. It's frustrating to hurry up and wait and hurry up and wait and wonder. So I decided to take my time on the requests, slow down and learn more, and write the books I wanted to write. I am still submitting, but I'm not rushing to submit. I think that just lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

As for twittering, blogging, etc., well I can't finish writing a book if I am on social networks all day, every day.

Keep honing your craft!