I’m sure it happens to everyone. We spend too much time doing something we love, and we eventually become burned out. We need a break. Lately, I’ve felt this way about writing.
It’s halfway through February and I’ve hardly taken the time to write. The ideas that usually come to me fairly easily have stopped coming, and I don’t find myself opening my internet browser with the intention of writing. Instead, I’ve been clicking on the Netflix icon without even thinking, indulging in television before closing the browser only to stare off into space.
Perhaps, it’s because I’m busier now that I was a month ago. I recently started graduate school, and I’ve been spending more time writing discussion board posts and academic papers. When I’m not writing for class, I’m reading for class. Trying to understand the nuances of linguistics and language acquisition and technical editing.
It could also be because of some other projects I dedicated so much of my time to in January. I set timelines for myself and worked vigorously toward them. Now, with those deadlines creeping up, I find myself diving into my work less and less, telling myself that those dates are arbitrary as I set them for myself. I guess that happens when the work requires you to give more of yourself emotionally.
When this writing burnout happens, I’m not quite sure what to do. I can’t force myself to write, because the quality of what I write suffers. I can’t get into the right mindset and the words sound all wrong.
So what now?
So I decide to give myself some time to unwind. To figure out what’s burning me out and holding me back. I take more time to read, rather than write, hoping to find some inspiration in the words of others. I take walks and spend time in places that I love. I soak up all the sunshine, hoping the vitamin D and release of endorphins will trigger something in my mind, an aha! moment, and that the words will flow freely.
But there’s only so much time that I can take away from my writing. And my schoolwork. Only so many walks along the river before my fingers grow cold in the winter cold. Only so much Netflix I can watch before I start to feel guilty that I’m prioritizing the wrong thing. I’ve always been busy. I work best when I’m busy. But I know this business is also what leads to the burnout.
I think what I really need to find is balance. Balance between being busy and being idle. The balance that can help me write regularly without pushing myself to unrealistic deadlines. Where I can get my homework done with time to spare and take the time to relax and enjoy the world around me.
Perhaps I need bouts of writing burnout to remind myself that life isn’t about extremes. It’s about finding that balance that allows us to do the things we love while living a life of happiness and intention.