Friday, September 30, 2011

Writer Burn-Out

by Darke Conteur

It's something writers don't talk about. That deep, depressing hole of miserable that feels worse than any writer's block. You look at the blank screen in front of you, and nothing comes to mind. No words or ideas. Not one thought. It isn't that you can't write, but more that you don't want to. You have no energy, no inspiration, and no amount of excitement creeps into your life when you open a Word file. This isn't just in your mind, but for some, it's a physical condition as well.

For whatever reason, many writers have battled a case of Burn-Out. For some, it can last a few days, others, a lot longer. I know of two writers in the last few years who developed a bad case of Burn-Out. One decided she would retire from the writing world for good, perhaps unsatisfied with her accomplishments and not wanting to continue spending energy on what she saw as a fruitless task. I was sad to see her leave. Reading her blog entries was an exciting look into her world. She blogged about the good and bad about the conferences she'd attended and been a part of, and it sounded like she was here to stay. The announcement of her departure was right out of left field.

The other writer, after announcing his writing retirement, started a new creative project, but not in writing. It was still connected to what he loved to do, he just wasn't writing. It took a few months of him putting his energy into this other project before his itch to write returned. When it did, he was more excited than ever about his work.

Writer Burn-Out is nothing to be ashamed of. It isn't a sign that you're weak or don't have what it takes. Generally, I find it's just the opposite. It can be overwhelming to learn all that is needed to become a writer. The stress from wanting to get it right can be debilitating, especially if the words aren’t coming and you keep reading about other writers having incredible writing days. The important thing to remember is, you're not alone. You're not the first to experience this, and you won't be the last. No one is going to think any less of you if you drop everything and walk away. Sometimes that's what's needed. Do what YOU need to do to get yourself through this. Don't worry, your story will always be there, and the writing community will always be here to welcome you back.


Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

This was really good and I expect it will help some writers out there who are going through the same thing. :)

Carmen Esposito said...

I've experienced this and it felt awful. So I went on hiatus for a bit and immersed myself in other non-writing projects for a while. Recently I returned to writing and it's coming along albeit slowly.

Mindy McGinnis said...

I've definitely experienced it, and it's a very different animal from block. I can know exactly what's going to happen next in the plot, where the characters are going, what is supposed to happen.

But actually WRITING that? Nah.

Jemi Fraser said...

There have been several times when I've been overwhelmed by how much I don't know - how much more there is to learn. I try to remind myself it's one step at a time, and moving by baby steps is better than not moving at all. It helps ... at least some of the time :)

Darke Conteur said...

I've been there too. Just last month I crawled into bed and didn't get out for four days. I felt so guilty for not wanting to write, but there was a part of me that said 'To Hell with it.'