Working as a professional writer can be very rewarding as it allows us to let our imaginations run wild as we create new worlds or describe an issue in the world around us. However, it is also easy for us to get into our own heads, stress out about the work or what comes next, and eventually, the anxiety could turn into burnout.
The last thing we want to think about is writer’s block and burnout, especially when beginning work on a novel or another expansive writing project. While some anxiety may be unavoidable, the good news is that you can manage the potential for burnout by having a well-thought-out plan. Use the tips below to avoid unneeded stress and create a plan for success.
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How Burnout Can Affect Your Work
Burnout can be a factor in your writing work, just as it can be in any other job. This harmful issue often comes to light if you are working longer hours than necessary on a recurring basis or you have a lack of control over your writing work. The signs of burnout can be numerous and include fatigue, stress, and irritability. If you don’t make a change, then you could also start to experience serious physical ailments, ranging from heart disease to type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to writing, it is easy to suffer from creative burnout, where you are dealing with many of the symptoms, but you may have trouble doing your basic work, including coming up with ideas or reaching your minimum word count for the day. Sometimes, the stress can be so bad that we dread waking up for fear of the struggles we may face during the day.
It is important to point out that in some cases, burnout is more than just a feeling, but is also an officially recognized mental health disorder. If you are frequently feeling deflated, or defeated, or you experience constant headaches and fatigue, these may be signs you should see a therapist so you can get the help you need. An expert will listen to your story and provide a possible solution so you can hit your creative stride again.
Scheduling Your Writing Plans To Mitigate Burnout
Many writers try to produce between 4000 to 10,000 words per day, and if this is your goal, then you need to properly manage your time or you could experience burnout.
Take this time to consider your writing plan for the rest of the month and then space out your days appropriately so that you aren’t doing more than you can handle on any given day. When you plan your month, schedule accordingly so that you can afford to miss a day or two and not negatively impact your goals. You can call these mental health days, where you take some time to rest and reflect, so you can return to your work feeling mentally refreshed. Also, schedule your days in such a way that you can afford to stop for a few minutes here or an hour there to take a break or look at what you have written and ensure that you are on the right track.
Even if you do go off on a path that won’t work for your intended narrative, remember that no writing is ever wasted, and you can use those ideas for a different project in the future.
It is also essential that you create your writing plan in such a way that you allow yourself to get enough rest. Plan for at least seven to nine hours of sleep at night. In addition to giving your eyes a rest and waking up with a renewed sense of purpose, when you sleep, your body repairs your immune system, which helps to protect you from getting sick.
If you fall ill, then you could miss out on several days of writing work, which you may not be able to afford. Plus, sleeping also encourages creative rest. Sometimes, we need to take a break from work and do something else. Often, that is when the best ideas come about.
Planning for Additional Stress
When you are creating your writing plan, it is also essential that you account for other external stress factors that could come up and interrupt your flow and potentially lead to burnout. For instance, you might avoid scheduling your longer and more involved writing projects during the holidays when you may not get the chance to concentrate, or you may have to deal with family drama that could prevent you from focusing and creating your best work.
Money and financial issues are often major stressors, especially for writers who may depend on an irregular paycheck. You need to keep the lights on and the electricity flowing in order to do your work, so planning and budgeting are essential at this time. If you need to create a budget with an irregular pay schedule, then start by looking at your average monthly income. Even if you do not get paychecks on a recurring basis, look at how much you are estimated to earn and compare that to your expenses to ensure that you won’t be short.
If money is tight, then you may need to cut out some unnecessary expenses, like the extra streaming service that you never watch, or eliminate your daily Starbucks run and instead brew your coffee at home as you write. If you have a big writing project coming up, then you may also consider speaking to a financial advisor or counselor who can help you to get your financial situation in order, so you aren’t dwelling on it when you are supposed to be creating your next masterpiece.
In the end, if left unresolved, stress and burnout can mean the end of your elaborate writing plans. Consider the advice and tips discussed here, and you can meet your deadlines and reach your goals.