Preferred Methods for dealing with Burnout?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Netardapope, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Netardapope

    Netardapope Mystagogue

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    So, I had a really good writing streak last week. I averaged around 2.5k to 3.5k daily words, which essentialy ranges from above average to great when compared to my usual writing habits.

    Unfortunately, all golden ages must come to an end. Recently, I've gone back to my usual 2k, but I've been struggling a lot. My writing sessions have become very sporadic this week, each usually averaging to about 400 to 500 words. This isn't too bad, but I don't know if I'll be able to keep up like this. The least I do on any given day tends to be 1000 words.

    I feel disconnected to what I'm writing. I wouldn't call it Writer's Block, since it really isn't THAT bad. But it's annoying.

    Regarding this, I've heard many different tips for burnout, but they usually fall into three camps.

    1. Take time off from writing (Usually one day)

    2. Lower Your Daily Word Count

    3. CHARGE! CHARGE! (In other words, due your usual amount and quit fussing :D)

    I know that each of these work well for different people, as there are exceptions to every rule, but I'd like to hear how you guys handle burnout. Or maybe there's a method I missed there?

    I'll pitch in an old tactic of mine for the hell of it. What I used to do when I was burnt out was write brief pieces of unrelated flash fiction and short stories for fun. I usually did it with a pencil and paper in order to distance myself from my WIP at all costs. I dunno why, but this hasn't been working for me recently, I just can't seem to enjoy any of the short fiction I write anymore.

    So, what do the Scribes do?
     
  2. Vaporo

    Vaporo Lore Master

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    You might fing some useful tips here.

    Now that I've had my little laugh, my preferred method for dealing with burnout in any situation is just to take a day off. If I'm burn out, it means that I don't want to work on something at all right now. Just lowering my goals would ultimately reduce my overall productivity.
     
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  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Honestly, I don't worry about burn out too much. My only concern is if I'm making progress. It doesn't matter if that progress comes in the form of 2500 words or 25 words. As long as I'm constantly moving forward, I take it as a win or at least a tie.

    For me, I have times where I'm very productive, and I have times where it's a bit of a struggle. It all averages out I think. It's all about knowing yourself and being honest with yourself about what the situation is. Sometimes you need to get off your arse and get typing. Other times, you need to throttle back because you're tired for whatever reason. Other times still, it's somewhere in between.

    The only time I get worried is if I've stopped completely, meaning no word count progress, no editing progress, no thinking about writing/my story at all. That's when I get worried.
     
  4. pmmg

    pmmg Grandmaster

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    So...sometimes people burn out on things, and they stop. It happens, and there is no right or wrong to it. There are many ways to express oneself creatively and I am sure if writing was to ever fade, you would move onto one of those. And it would be okay, cause we are who we are, and sometimes that is not who we were.

    For myself. My progress is very slow, and for a lot of reasons. I am happy if I get 200-500 words a night. And I don't always. But mostly, I am just happy to keep it moving forward. Sometimes I wait for the right inspiration to hit me, or for the story to gel more in my mind. Sometimes I just say enough, and write something, whatever it is, so I can move on to the next part. But I don't believe in forcing things. If it ain't happnin', it ain't. That's just life.
     
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  5. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    A 2k daily word count is incredible production for a part-time writer (I'm assuming you haven't gone pro), in my opinion. My best days are in the 2k range. However, I've learned that when I'm pumping out that many words, quality suffers.

    I read Chris Fox's book on how to grow to 5k a day, and although my production tripled, I wasn't doing good work, even for a first draft. I decided to slow it down and give my mind time to chew on the story details that I enjoy as a reader.

    I now do a weekly word count. It isn't a crazy high number. I'd call in modest, but I write every day until I hit that weekly goal. If I hit my weekly number & Sunday is the next day, I take the day off. I've found that by allowing my mind time to recharge, I'm able to produce much better first drafts. Mind you, my process is always changing, but a few things have remained constant for some time now.

    First, I write first thing in the morning, right after I pour myself that first cup of coffee. I'm disciplined about that because it's far too easy to let the early writing hours slip away. I've also found that those early few minutes, when I'm not fully awake seem to be very creative. I'd like to think it has something to do with the unconscious mind lumbering closer to the surface, but in truth, it's probably more along the lines of training myself to be creative at a certain time, and when my mind isn't fully alert, that instinct fall into creativity is easier. There's less inhibitions getting in the way.

    So, if you haven't already, fiddle with your writing time. Start early before the day takes hold of you. Most times when I talk to someone about writing in the early morning, I get reasons why they can't do mornings. They can. They just don't want to. Just a few years ago, I would've said the same. "I'm not a morning person!" I'd scream. I am now because I trained myself to be creative in the morning. It took a couple months, but it was worth it.

    Also, consider slowing your pace some. I'm just guessing from the information you've supplied, but maybe you're struggling with what you're writing because the you're hurrying over the pieces that make the storyteller in you feel the wow factor. Think about spending a lot more time (time that you used to pump out half those words in) daydreaming about your story, working through dialogue to make it feel more natural and snappier, turning your metaphors into magic, or infusing emotional conflict into your story. It could simply be that you feel you're writing beneath your storytelling ability because you aren't paying attention to the storytelling itself. You're pumping out words.

    Learning to write faster isn't wasted time, but it certainly isn't one of the more important aspect of storytelling. Spend more time in development & love what you write.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2017
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  6. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Grandmaster

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    Whenever I get the same feeling I read outside of the genre I am writing. Sometimes we get mentally stuck in our own style of story telling. It's good to see things in a different manner and broaden the possibilities for your own story.
     
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  7. Netardapope

    Netardapope Mystagogue

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    I can testify to mornings, while at the same time, toward evening as well. Dunno if it's just me, but the best times I recall have been from early morning, or nearing 8:00 to 9:00 PM!

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  8. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Lore Master

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    If I'm burnt out, which is often these days, it means I need to eat more. That my body is low on energy.
     
  9. Helen

    Helen Mystagogue

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    Travelling somewhere unknown for a couple of weeks. Works for me every time.
     
  10. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Grandmaster

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    Reading. This usually does it for me. Maybe a bit of television. But usually just lots of reading (and often in a different genre).
     
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  11. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Dark Lord

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    When this happens to me, I know my creative well is tapped and needs to be refilled. I would take a short break and read or watch what inspires you. For me, an urban fantasy author, that involves K-pop videos, books of all stripes but especially those within my genre, and TV shows and movies. I'll also change up my music until something clicks and the words start flowing again.

    Remember, also, that we writers need self-care. Take time for a massage or a walk with the leashable animal of your choosing, or playing a video game. Also, remember to snack while you work. It takes a lot of energy to do what we do. Good luck!
     
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  12. Netardapope

    Netardapope Mystagogue

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    I can testify to this. Going for a good walk or watching a nice episode of a series recharges me. Thanks for stopping by!
     
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