My emotions have been all over the place this past week. This could be attributed to many different things, but I think the main one is burnout.
I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to the stressors of day jobs and creative work on the side. Working all day to come home to creative work feels a lot like school days — sit in class having your brain hammered for 9 hours only to go home and be expected to keep using said brain that is now mush for another 1-2 hours. It’s exhausting.
I’ve read in various books that we only have so much decision-making power in a day. That we love routine because it reduces the amount of decisions we have to make and therefore makes us more efficient and eases the stress on our brains. When something big happens, like moving, and routines are uprooted, those decisions become emphasized. It’s stressful.
Suddenly, the mundane things are very much choices again. Getting up in the morning feels like a physical demand. Choosing what to eat for breakfast is now an actual choice. Packing a lunch is suddenly a chore. Work seems more stressful. Picking what’s for dinner and going through the steps of actually cooking it is more exhausting. Getting your butt in a chair to write is almost painful.
What about writing?
Have I been writing? Yes! Creating is the #1 way I stay sane. But, writing doesn’t just have to be putting words on paper in the draft.
I’ve been plotting my novel (I finished the plot embryo of my protagonist! Yayy). I’ve been finding songs that I want my characters to sing, or that would be great to use in the “warm up” playlist that plays over the loudspeaker during games, or might even be played at a party. I’ve been searching for images I find inspiring. I’ve been thinking about scenes. Yeah, even that is writing. A lot of putting a book together looks like staring at the book.
I’ve been doing other creating too. I’ve repotted plants, planned out bookshelves, found art for our rooms, rearranged my desk space, and searched for recipes I want to cook.
One of the things I’m always envious of is the progress that other writers seem to be making on their books. But that’s just it, they seem to be making progress. There’s no way to know just how far a book is toward being finished. It’s such a fluid thing. The ever changing finish line really gets to me sometimes.
So, I’ll take a step back, give myself a little rest from actively working hard toward an unacknowledged goal, reassess what my finish line is, and then get back to it. I just can’t take too long of a break from it, since the spark is still there I want to keep going.
What do you do when you’re feeling burnt out? Anything you’ve found successful to re-spark your writing after a good break?