What to do when you’re burnt out from writing?

am writing

Sooo I did plan to do a few *very* different pieces back in November. After finishing most of my editing goals for the year in August, I hoped I would have something new to work on by now. Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), this year, seemed like a promising time to start drafting my first new project in *years*… but as you might have guessed from the title of this piece, that’s not what happened. Not only is my WIP currently off slumbering in the Chamber of Secrets, but I couldn’t seem to look any new project in the eye without getting petrified. So not much writing happened in Nanowrimo. It turns out, I’m experiencing a little thing called burn out.

candle burning down

I shouldn’t really be surprised- it’s kinda the natural ebb and flow of creativity- but at the same time I often find myself at a loss when I find a loose hour here or there that I’d normally love to fill with some writing. Which is why, I thought I’d put together a fun list of what you can do when you’re burnt out from writing (or anything else for that matter):

See friends– yes, they might have forgotten what you looked like. You might have to remind them who you are- but I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you now you’ve emerged from your writing cave and can say something more than *grunt* *edit* *grunt* *must. write. now*

friends hug

Watch *all the TV*- granted I haven’t tried this yet- but I think a good binge could solve all most of my problems.

watch tv

READ– I mean, obviously. And it’s probably nothing new, since you may have used this to procrastinate from working on your WIP. But at least now you won’t have any pesky writing-goblin perched on your shoulder making you feel guilty about it!

matilda books

Do something else that’s creative– for me that often involves drawing (mostly monkeys 😉)- but it could be anything from crocheting, knitting or building a bird house… whatever floats your boat.

painting

Blog about how you’re burnt out– (ooh meta). You could also blog in general, catch up on comments and hop around the blogosphere 😀

writing

Stare into space

stare into space

Dream of doing something with your WIP (but also not just yet cos you need to breathe and that ish is scary)

daydream.gif

Dust off an old project– *stare at it intently*, promise to plan it soon, maybe start planning it, scrap plans, *stare some more* like you’re in a Twilight movie, lather, rinse, repeat.

stare

And finally…

*Give it some time*- yes, my final piece of advice (to myself and everyone else going through this) is that it’ll come! You can try and force it, but the best thing I’ve always found is to take a breather and just let it come.

breathe

So, have you experienced burn out before? What did you do to get over the hump? Let me know in the comments!

47 thoughts on “What to do when you’re burnt out from writing?

  1. It’s amazing how often writing doesn’t happen. I always think of it as something like:
    Conscious mind: Time to write
    Unconscious mind: No it isn’t.
    Conscious mind: But I need to write. Help me.
    Unconscious mind: Shan’t.
    (etc).
    Then that unconscious mind gets working as soon as the writer is distracted doing something else with the result that the hapless author ends up putting the words down at about 11.30 at night…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. hahaha this I relate to so much!!
      Unconscious mind is also easily distracted, likes to find shiny new toys to play with, adds that to its collection, then quickly flies off at the slightest noise… basically my unconscious mind is a very jittery magpie 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This feels so relevant! Been struggling a lot/ producing work that doesn’t quite feel right!
    Had to go back to the types of books that have influenced my style, and did a (rather bad) drawing of an elf!
    And also started a blog…
    I think remaining creative is the key, even if that creativity takes a different form!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The burn-out isn’t a slow-down, it’s a sign that the story is trying to communicate and the writer must do something different to let the portals between characters in the story and the writers mind. Keep pen and notebook close by, because they’re gonna come through, give a little spark of something, a whisper in the wind, show you a moment that could be in ‘there’ – and the spark becomes a flame and the flame catches the kindling, and the fire it lit!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This is also true, I did manage to realise that I was focusing on too many different characters, and it wasn’t productive or feesible to follow them all! Had to re-plot and shift my focus, which made me more excited to write again

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I definitely experience this.. Most of the time if I start working on something else completely different (if I’m working on a longer ms, I switch to a short humor piece, etc.), but I have taken LONG breaks. Too long. Then it’s hard to come back to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This has happened to me too. Usually, I fill void with more reading, but last year I took some online courses on drawing. I really enjoyed it, but as soon as the words started flowing again, I put the pencils and sketch pads away—for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello,

    I am unsure if “burn-out” equates to “writing-block”. These may be different species. However, some stoppage of words is the seeming result with both creatures.

    Almost all of my activities have this “block” phenomenon to pop up. The fine print should read: “Does Not include chocolate or coffee consumption.”

    If I get “off track” I schedule a calendar check-in as a reminder to me, “you reported a writing outage on the 9th—how’s that going?” I’ll try anything to help get me out of a rut. Call it what it is.

    Minds rebel against the “same-old-same-old” and creative activities demand a lot of us as dancers, as visual artists, and as writers.

    Recently I mis-read a deadline notification to be in three weeks for a short-story submission. The real due date is in three months. I discovered this after I had written nearly three-fifths of the piece.

    Fear is a great motivator. I didn’t wish to wait another year to give it a go to perhaps join this group of story-peddlers. I am well on the way to first re-writes. I am stoked, but realize I can mess this up if I procrastinate.

    No. I would. Not. Dare.

    Happy writing,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi!

      Good point! Well I’d say they’re a little different for me personally- I find writer’s block to be more that there’s a block with the story/idea, whereas burnout usually means the ideas are still there, just no energy to write them (usually comes after I’ve finished with a project). But yes, no words is the end result either way 😉
      I definitely relate to that- cos I always want to push forward out of a rut, regardless of what the problem is.

      Too true!

      Ah fear is definitely a good one.

      Thanks 😊 You too!

      Like

  7. Yup, burn out is real. I find that one of the best things I can do to fight it for myself is to acknowledge it and allow myself some time off so that I don’t feel guilty about not writing. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Other times I need more, and for those times the non-writing-creativity is my most frequent helper. Going for walks outside often helps, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah I definitely agree with you there- I often spend ages trying to figure out a way round it, but it just doesn’t get me anywhere. I think the only cure for burn out is to just give it time. Ah yes, definitely agree with both of those!

      Like

  8. Sometimes when I find that I am burned out from writing, it’s not so much the act of writing that has gotten me in a rut but maybe the style or the subject – so I try to switch it up and make writing fun and exciting again! Sometimes it works 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The best way to solve burn-out for me is to move myself to a new location for writing. Sometimes, it’s as simple as placing a desk in a new room, but other times, it involves me intruding at a friend’s house, trying out a new cafe, or staying at my sister’s for a bit. The new location usually allows me to center myself. It kinda gives me actual space to look at my WIP with new eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Dealing with a little burn out on my nano project (almost almost finished at 45k words) so I’m leaving it alone for a week or so! I’m catching up on my reading and doing some other creative stuff (finally doing some sketching tutorials on Youtube because I’ve always wanted to learn how to draw). I think what was more important is that I avoided major major burnout on this project by 1) having a rough outline of where I wanted my story to go but allowing my characters to develop on their own 2) In that same respect, letting my characters deviate from my outline if it right and just going with the flow of my story instead of trying to hammer it according the plan I had created.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ah that’s great you wrote so much!! I think that’s a great idea 😀 Ah that’s fantastic! And I do get what you mean about letting characters deviate as well- that’s one of the most fun things to do in writing I find! 😀

      Like

  11. Look, I am the first person who turns to TV for … well, pretty much anything, but I can’t say it has ever helped me when I was burnt out from writing and wanted to get back to it. My mind is so easily distracted that, if I watched something completely out of genre that I happened to adore, I would gladly abandon the writing project for fantasizing about this new thing haha my brain is not very helpful, you know?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I do all the things you’ve listed here when facing a little burn-out!😂 The only other thing I can add which I always find relaxing but at the same time productive and creative is baking! It doesn’t matter if it’s cookies, cake or bread as long as it’s yummy. 😄 Sadly I have to fight a bad conscience after this too (because I eat it in a matter of days) but at least it took me off from worrying about sucking at being creative otherwise. 😉 Hope you’ll soon get out of this swamp and get back to writing with renewed energy!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love this! That little girl, laughing over her book, is me!

    Also: “staring into space” Yes!

    For me:
    -knitting
    -wrapping Christmas presents
    -avoiding sending Christmas cards (why? not sure)
    -diving down the rabbit hole of whatever I’m researching, cause if I don’t do it now, I will lose interest
    -watching Breaking Bad and thanking God I am not those people because it seems like a close call somehow
    -(don’t laugh) praying for a true way through this mess I’ve got my characters into

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! haha me too! 😉

      hehe I relate to the diving down the research rabbit hole!!
      hehe fair enough- I found that a bit too hard to watch- though it’s great tv.
      hehehehe!! Now that I relate to the most! (a while ago I wrote a character into such a mess that I took ages trying to figure out how he wasn’t going to be dead 2/3 into the book… if he died, it had to happen at the end 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

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