In this post, we offer you a way to beat burnout and to find your way back to creativity and writing.
You may recognise the signs. Feeling guilty for not working on your novel for several weeks. A lot of the time you’re simply too tired to write. When you do sit down to write, you find it hard to concentrate. The motivation has disappeared.
If you do manage to finish a few pages, you don’t always enjoy the process, or feel the writing you produced hasn’t any merit. In fact, you may have become cynical about writing in general.
This kind of creative burnout isn’t always characterised by a dramatic meltdown. It can just be a vague and persistent feeling that your creative resources are running low. It’s time to fill up the well.
While it’s important to be kind to yourself, it’s also important to take control. Here are five gentle suggestions you could try to find your way back to creativity and writing.
5 Ways To Find Your Way Back To Creativity & Writing
1. Stop Judging Yourself
We all fall down sometimes. If you’ve stopped writing because you feel emotionally or creatively exhausted, being hard on yourself is not going to help. You have to realise that the fatigue is real and your feelings are valid. Fixating on these negative thoughts (guilt, frustration, or anger) will only make it worse.
Turn it around. See the positive in your situation. Taking a step back may allow you to re-evaluate your writing motivations, creative process, and even your purpose. Now is the time to let go of habits or thoughts that no longer serve you. Find ways that do work for you.
Become aware of your burnout triggers – do you need more rest, time away, fewer distractions? Make a conscious effort to remove these obstacles in a practical way.
2. Pick Up A Book
Many writers stop reading when they are tired and overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re on a serious deadline for your own creative project. More often than not you find you can’t focus on the book – that ‘I just can’t get into this book’ feeling.
The problem is that our writer’s brain is switched on when we read other authors – so, in a way, it still feels like ‘work’. Start reading again, yes, but this time was an unrestricted sense of pleasure. You could try reading some titles from the list of your 26 favourite books identified in Writers Write – it will feel familiar and less taxing on your mind.
You could read other writers’ inspiring stories. A Cup of Comfort for Writers is a great collection to keep on your nightstand. Another option is to read non-fiction instead, perhaps a history book or an engrossing biography or memoir.
3. Develop A Ritual Rather Than A Routine
Often a routine can become monotonous hamster-wheel, which can itself become exhausting. It may be a good idea to create some personal rituals instead, something that puts you in the right mood for writing. Routines are about time; rituals are about you.
The ritual could be a warm shower, a short walk in the park, or making a nice cup of coffee. If you want to feel connected to your writing, you could start the ritual in your writing room. Perhaps you could read over the last few pages you wrote or make longhand notes in a beautiful notebook before you start writing.
The ritual can be something as simple and satisfying as sharpening some pencils. Truman Capote, for example, always kept 169 sharpened pencils at the ready.
The only caveat here is to keep the ritual a short one, otherwise it becomes a form of procrastination.
4. Get Over The Comparison Game
Stop comparing your writing efforts (and outputs) to those of other writers – even if those people are your friends. Stop ‘envy scrolling’ through the social media feeds of other writers who seem happier and more successful than you do right now.
This often happens in online writers’ forums, social media groups, and WhatsApp or Telegram channels. It’s not healthy or productive. Don’t chase fads, trends, and money – these are poor motivators for any writer.
In fact, it may be a good time to take a digital detox and get back to simplicity – like pen and paper. Find your own personal reason or purpose for writing. Let that be your north star. Do it for a cause, as the familiar saying goes, not for applause.
5. Start Small (But Be Consistent)
Creative recovery, much like physical or psychological recovery, can’t be rushed. It’s about taking that first, small step towards reclaiming your identity and power as a writer.
You must find something that works for you. Don’t focus on big plans that feel overwhelming and unachievable. Focus on small day-to-day tasks or goals that you can achieve.
The goals can be very small at first and, as you build your artistic confidence, become a bit more ambitious. In the beginning, it could be as simple as getting your hands on a Writing Prompts Workbook, and writing for 10 minutes a day on a new prompt.
If you already have a project – a novel or story – print out what you have done, organise your notes and research, and start setting some realistic goals. Start small, but build consistency. Make writing a daily habit, even if it is for a few minutes.
The Last Word
I hope this post helps you find your way back to creativity and writing.
Listen to: Writers Talk 10 | Creativity & Imagination
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