Can’t focus on something you love to do, such as writing? Convinced that you have reached your limit and just burned out on it? What if I told you that is not the most probable case?
I had to fight my way through this very realization during the last couple of weeks. I was scared that I had pushed myself too hard and killed my own joy on my biggest WIP to date, The Rose Chronicles Book 2. I finished part one and was going over it when I noticed that my drive to do it was gone.
I went through the motions, sure. I tabbed to the document. The pages would be reread. Then nothing. I wasn’t changing or cleaning up any of my writing, which is the whole point of editing!
Then came a fateful moment, I had to restart my computer. Now, anyone who uses their computer for hours every day knows this isn’t something we often do. It’s normal to throw it in sleep mode and walk off. Nope, I restarted it to update and subsequently had to reopen all of my old tabs. Do you know what I found when I opened my Google Docs?
I found not one, not two, but five(5!) WIP files. All the different projects that I fully intended to work on simultaneously! Four of the five were long anticipated works that I already knew would be long term goals. I’m talking series.
I wasn’t burned out. I was overloaded. There were two many irons in the fire. My brain worked on them all day and night while I could only write on one. Storm clouds cleared and the sun was shining on me in my moment of realization. It was a revelation, an epiphany even!
Then the clouds came back because I didn’t know what to do about it. I had identified the problem, but I still had no solution. So I took a different approach. I decided to apply the snowball effect to my WIP’s.
I found the smallest of the five, a children’s story idea I had rolled around for the better part of a year. I remember making the original file for it, typing in a temporary title. Then I forgot about it as I thought. This would be my smallest writing project, 1k words was my goal for a first draft.
I dug out the notes I had for it, opened that file, and got to work. At the time of writing this post, that was twenty-four hours ago. I now have a completed, rough first draft for my children’s book to shelve and think on. In a single day, I knocked out something I had avoided like the plague because I had convinced myself I was burning out.
Tonight I will be continuing my next smallest project, the first in a series of novellas. I have roughly 10k words left to wrap up the first one, but I had set it aside months ago. I thought I had to finish my next big one before I lost my drive. I hope to have it drafted and shelved in the next 2-3 weeks. That puts me back to a more manageable three WIP’s.
I wasn’t burned out. I was tired, tired of not making progress, or finishing anything. Too many things had pulled me in too many directions for too long. I was stretched thin.
So, before you give yourself up to the thought of burn out, please ask yourself: is it actual burn out? I’m willing to bet the answer is a resounding no. It’s okay to be tired and need some time to breathe, but don’t give up on your goals.