Writers: On Beating Burnout

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully


Most of us have experienced the feeling of being fried. Of thinking it just isn’t possible to write one more article–or one more sentence. You stare at the page and want to pull your hair out. You clean the house and run all of your errands rather than writing a single word.

So what do you do about it?

Obviously the work has to get done, so not doing it really isn’t an option. But how can you get past those feelings of dread and weariness?

Everyone has their own way of dealing with these feelings. I’m going to share a few of my time-tested tips here, but I’d really love to hear from you too–if you have a second to spare–leave a comment with your best advice…

Here are my top five:

  1. Dangle a carrot. If you have a project looming and just can’t get motivated, give yourself a reason to get it done. Yes, it’s bribery. So what. Promise yourself you’ll buy that nice pair of shoes after you get done–or go for an ice cream cone. It works for me.
  2. Just do it. Thinking about the writing is sometimes worse than just doing it. I find if I simply sit down and begin, it usually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Getting yourself whipped into a frenzy about it ahead of time just doesn’t help matters any.
  3. Take a day. Work ahead a little and blow a day completely off. Leave the laptop at home and go see a movie or take a long bike ride. Your brain may simply need a bit of rest. Given a little free time, things usually settle down a bit for me.
  4. Start with something you like. If I work on a project I enjoy first I can ease into those I don’t better. (Some people may actually work in reverse, so see what you gravitate toward.)
  5. Do some goal setting. Often the problem is that you are stuck in some kind of a rut with your writing career. Burnout for me comes when I am not enjoying the work I’m doing and I have to do it over and over. Setting some goals to do things with your writing that you like can go a long way toward improving your attitude.

Your turn….what works for you?