The Ailing Writer’s Burnout Repair Kit

We all burn out sometimes. For creative types, it tends to come with the territory, so knowing how to deal when it happens is an essential part of our self-care. And just how does one deal? Well, there are no hard and fast rules for treatment, but there are many things that help. I suggest a few (okay, twenty) of them here, in:

The Ailing Writer’s BURNOUT REPAIR KIT

burnout repair kit-2

CONTENTS:

    1. Pillow for crash-nap and/or screaming into.
    2. Big boss pajama pants, because nothing punches stress in the face like comfort and good circulation. And why not look cool doing it?
    3. Chocolate because not only does it lift mood and obliterate magical trauma (source: Remus Lupin); there is actually a sampler box of health benefits to indulging. Not to mention its effects on the reading experience.
    4. Emergency cookies.
    5. Bubble bath & bath bombs for relaxation, scent-sations, and soaking the stress away. And when you’re done, you can smell like a galaxy! Or, you know. Vanilla. And hey does anyone else see this and think “Triwizard Tournament”? What I did not just buy a dozen bath bombs YOU BOUGHT A DOZEN BATH BOMBS
    6. Comfy slippers won’t transport you to Kansas, but they may just bring heaven to earth and your feet. Mm. Squishy.
    7. Notebook & pen for when you need to go dark and rest your weary eyes from the screen.
    8. Markers, or tools for any creative outlet, to prove to yourself that even if you’re feeling word-blocked, you can still have fun making things!
    9. Your favorite book, or any book you enjoy. It’s an inexpensive escape and an invaluable connection to why you love writing and storytelling in the first place!
    10. Something you can anger crush and not feel bad about. Pictured: junk mail. Suggested: soda cans, bubble wrap, the dreams of enemies
    11. A sad movie & ample tissues. Feeling blocked? Stressed? In over your head? Put on a tearjerker and let the emotions roll. Popcorn optional.
    12. Low-tech wireless blocker (i.e., tape). Step 1: Turn wireless off. Step 2: Place tape over switch. Step 3: Profit.
    13. A cold bottle of age-appropriate beverage. Wine, vanilla soda, beer, coffee—whatever fits the bill.
    14. Fan mail and/or author exchange. Admiration for anything you’ve written, book or blogpost (or even tweet!) can be fan mail. Keep a folder and refer to it any time for instant cheer. Also healing: exchange with writer friends. It’s nice to remember you’re not alone in this—that others go through the struggles, too. Plus, a friend will have your back if you need to vent a little!
    15. Jar of love. Squirrel away printed margin note compliments, edit letter praise, and positive reader feedback for a rainy day. Then when doubt creeps up on you, PAPER CUT THAT BASTARD WITH LOVE and remember you are not an utter failure.
    16. Written permission (to you, from you) to take the day off. As authors, we are largely responsible for monitoring our own work. This includes meeting deadlines, but it also means recognizing when we, the creative muscle, are running ourselves into the ground. If you reach a point where your work is becoming destructive to you, it is probably healthier to spend some time apart from it—and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
    17. Sturdy shoes for walking it out, or a rejuvenating time on the town.
    18. Plush socks. Part of a balanced cozy.
    19. Blankets. One deluxe and fuzzy one to hide under, or many with which to build a fort and [read] [work] [Netbinge].
    20. __________??? (What’s in yours? Share in the comments below, or tell me on Twitter!)

Write, Doubt, Write, Repeat

Doubt is such a funny, fickle thing.

One day I know that boy, I have a lot of work to do, but I’ll figure everything out eventually. Another it’s WOOOOP WOOOOP EMERGENCY THIS IS NOT A DRILL PROBLEMS ABOUND AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SOLVE THEM TAKE SHELTER AND PREPARE FOR IMPACT NOW.

The next I’ll come up with a fix. It’ll take me totally by surprise and reassure me to the moon.

The day after I’ll be sitting with my finger poised over send, biting my lip and sweating and second guessing everything because oh my god, someone else is going to read this, and maybe it seemed decent yesterday but it actually isn’t and I’ve read it so many times I can’t tell anymore and ahhHhHhHHhh I don’t know I just help?!?!????! (Eventually reason kicks in: This is why I’m getting outside feedback. I get the feedback; I make it better; life goes on.)

Here is what I’m coming to see: Doubt is a part of the process. But it’s not a one time step, knock it out of the way and you’re done; it’s a thread. It weaves through everything you do, every step of the way. It can come at any stage, at any strength, for any duration of time—and evaporate in the blink of an eye.

Being a writer means confronting your doubts again, and again, and again. It can be scary. It can be nerve-wracking.

But it can also be incredibly rewarding.

So the next time doubt swamps you, give yourself some credit and keep writing.

You’re right on track.