Wednesday, July 3, 2019

High Fives from Amanda: Getting Burnt

I thought this month I would get SUPER honest. 

I'm exhausted. Even after a vacation, I'm exhausted.   So this month, I thought I'd five you a few pointers on how to avoid that other burn that happens during the summer time: Writer Burn Out.

Burn out is a warning you might be losing passion. You are running out of energy to actively sustain your love of something. If losing passion is not an option, then you need to heed the warning. And this isn't just for writing- this can be for a job that you are passionate about or, frankly, life in general. 

Here are my five tips for dealing with burnout. 

1). Negotiate a successful failure- If you really can't finish, what can you finish? If you can't do the edits on the whole thing, can you finish the edits on the first 15? the first 30? Thirty pages edited is more than nothing, and you'll be sane enough to edit another day. This is when having SMART goals comes in really handy. 

2). It is okay to suck. Leave your perfect Alice Hoffman and Steven King and Jim Butcher at the door. Accept that somedays it is okay to just suck. Just tell the story. Just get the words on the page because, very much like #1, it is easier to edit a page with words than a page without words. For me, sometimes this looks like (insert emotional beat here). 

3). Explore other creative outlets- the more physical the better. Sometimes you just have to get out of the 'writing brain' and use some other hemisphere. Work in a garden. Color-coordinate your bookshelves. Reorganize your living space. Clean everything. Honestly, sometimes just cleaning off my desk is enough to get me back in a writing mood. Mostly because I hate cleaning, and I tell myself, "Look Arista, it is either cleaning or writing, so pick one."

4. Sleep and Relax. When you are facing burnout, sometimes binging Netflix is TOTALLY OKAY. Its okay to watch five seasons of a TV show in a weekend. You are a) potentially angering your muse so much that she will start to saturate your brain with better ideas than this drivel and b) resting and releasing the tension that burnout causes. It is a powerful thing to just put your phone down, put the book down, and allow yourself to go to sleep at the same time as your kids. Try it. Ten hours of sleep is LIFE-CHANGING. 

5. Worry about yourself and yourself only. This one takes a few different faces. - Get off social media. When you are burnt out, the last thing you need to see is some peppy author with a three book deal. What she didn't post was the years that it took to get there- you're only seeing the snapshot and you don't need to see that right now. Stop comparing your journey to others journeys. There are others like it, but this one is yours.- Assess motivations for writing. Do you need to adjust your goals? Are you being too hard on yourself and that is causing burn-out? Is what you are doing today really advancing those goals or is it just busy work? If you stopped writing, what would happen? That last one is hard, but if its a scary thought- you're world without writing- then at least you know the passion is still there. - Eat better, drink water, and exercise with a purpose. Like throw yourself into taking care of YOU. Do that 10 step face cleansing. Try that three day juicing thing. Walk your dog. But do it for you. 

Not trying to be preachy with this, but I know. I've been there. So forgive yourself for the bad days and know that with a little sleep, some hydration, and maybe a walk around the block, it will be better tomorrow. 

If you have a Top Five list you'd like me to cultivate, please let me know in the comments below or at @pantherista

In the meantime, give yourself a high five!

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