We’re well in to 2023 now. Some of us can reflect on a great 2022, some of us reflect on a difficult 2022, and others may have had a burnout in 2022. I’m raising my hand for the Great Burnout of 2022.🤚
Burnout… for the writer
Most of us are familiar with writer’s block – a condition where a writer has trouble creating new ideas. A less talked about condition is a burnout. For writers, a burnout is when we’ve run out of steam, energy, and motivation to write. We still have the creative ideas and stories, but we just can’t bring ourselves to write. A burnout can vary in intensity, meaning they can last days, weeks, months, or worse – years. In general, a burnout manifests when the writer has reached a limit of work and for each writer that can be pretty different. There are ways to combat writer’s burnout and one of the best ways is to rest.
Never not working.
⬆️ Totally my motto. ⬆️
I started writing in late 2018, then began publishing in early 2019. From that moment on, my mind switched onto an “always working” mode. If I wasn’t writing stories in Word doc, I was writing them in my head. If I wasn’t writing, then I was working on marketing, meeting pre-order deadlines, editing, how to improve my craft, typesetting, researching for a book, social media, fielding reader emails or DMs, composing newsletters, and well… living and breathing my author life every. single. day.
At some point, it became a joke between me and my friends that my motto was: “Never not working” from the Patrick Mahomes and Troy Polamalu commercials for Head & Shoulders. What I didn’t realize was that my true motto was “Never ever not working”.
What a Burnout did to Me 🔥
First, I’ve never suffered from a burnout in writing or much else. When I reached my limit, I didn’t know I had and didn’t know I was facing a burnout. I didn’t see the burnout for what it was until I was past it and could reflect back on the events. Most of the pieces were there, but it took me months to connect them and realize the bigger problem.
The burnout initially hit me in early 2022, after I published Book 7 in The Alpha God series and that was right after publishing Of Wulf and Wynd, Part 1 a month earlier. After I hit the publish button on Book 7, I had several panic attacks over a three to four month period. I experienced one of the most severe panic attacks of my life a couple of weeks after Book 7. After the panic attacks receded, I was left drained, hollow, and in a delicate state. My desire to write was almost exhausted, but I did have enough energy to publish, which meant Of Wulf and Wynd, Part 2 was next because it was already written. It was published in July. Then after that… nothing for months.
<< Live feed from my brain after July 2022.
For the rest of the summer and into the fall, I wrote sporadically. I mustered enough energy to write and publish I, Sumner and I, Kalatas. But they were just little shorties, and I should have been working on Of Wulf and Wynd, Part 3. I couldn’t though. Nor had I figured out what was wrong with me, which was disheartening.
How I Discovered it was a Burnout… and Got Out of It🦾
The strange part about my burnout was that I didn’t understand it until I was passed it. Each January I sit down and add up my word count for the previous year. I calc both the words I wrote and the words I published. For 2022, it was the lowest yet.
That then led to a lot of self-reflection about why I wrote so little. The calculations for the yearly word count were the last piece I needed to put this puzzle together. One evening, I joined all the pieces and slapped my forehead. The realization that I’d suffered a burnout was a relief. Everything made sense now.
Oh. And a few days later, I received an author’s newsletter in my inbox. Guess what the topic was in that issue? Writer’s burnout! A little creepy but you can bet I read that whole damn article. Twice. 😆
But by this point, I was already recovering from the burnout. Even though I didn’t fully understand the issue, I knew there was one. On September 1st, I had decided to trick myself by “converting” my very first book into an Omegaverse story. I thought it would be a small step to getting back into writing. Here I had to take an old story, heavily edit it, and add some new content. I wasn’t writing fresh, but the story still required new additional scenes to make it a fuller novel. And thankfully the trick helped me. (Hint, hint this is The Iron Edge.”
On top of easing myself back into writing, I honestly required time to rest, which had happened on its own throughout 2022. I also went to therapy but more so for the anxiety aspect of it. The sessions unlocked a lot of boxes, which required organizing & processing.
But How in the Bloody Hell
Did it Happen⁉️ 🤔
Even after having an epiphany about the situation, I needed to discern what exactly caused the burnout so I didn’t wash & repeat later down the road.
As you might have guessed, the “never not working” motto bit me in the ass. 🍑
On top of generally working too much, I realized that the long pre-orders had eaten away at me over a three-year period. From the start of publishing, I chose to have a pre-order setup for the sequel book of the current one releasing in The Alpha God series. This strategy is an excellent way to build up a readership and promise readers the next book in the series. It worked well for me, but it also took a toll on me after seven books (not to mention there were short stories between them). Not only did the deadlines weigh on me, but also each subsequent book became longer than the last one. I was forcing myself to write longer books in the same tiny window of time that I had started with.
Also, the consequences of not meeting the pre-order deadline were heavy. Amazon would punish me if I failed to upload the book in time. I could lose readers for not holding up my end. Then I would lose income and bills go unpaid. A fall from the pedestal could get ugly. Thankfully, I never had that fall, but I still paid a price.
Changes I’ve Since Made
I learned my lesson. Pretty sure.
I still work a lot. I still think a lot about my stories and ideas. That’ll never switch off, but I can turn the knob back and control the flow.
I cut out doing long pre-orders. I’ll do short pre-orders. I may one day do long ones again, but they’ll be better planned and I’ll be better prepared for them.
I take Sundays off now. I’ve always disliked working Sundays, but I had no problem writing on Sundays because it was never work to me… but writing is exhausting on the mind. It’s important to give myself a break, even if story telling is fun.
And it is SO HARD to take Sundays off. But this old author can learn new tricks.
Everyone needs a good team, right? For me, another key to combating a burnout is my circle of friends. During the worst of my burnout, I seesawed with a few of them while one of them helped me rest. In the end, each of them held steadfast and allowed me to work through my situation.
My friends let me confide in them about life. They let me throw story ideas at them. They never tell me what to write… but they might tell me an idea sucks. 😂 But best of all, they’re still there even after I falter as a person. They are loving, forgiving & understanding.
All my love and gratitude to y’all. You know who you are. 🤗😘
Burn Baby Burn
It feels sooo good to be burning again. 🔥 To those of you who are missing Charlie and Kal, they’re coming and ready for war against the Sworne. And those of you missing Ros & Tharon, they have quite the tale to tell you about their time in White Sommer. These stories are coming so please hang in there a little longer.
Thank you to my readers for their great patience. 🧡
For other authors out there, I say: mind the gap. Mind the gap between you and too much because once you step on that train of “too much”, it and you can crash. Story telling is a lot of fun, but it draws on your creative power, and we all need time to recharge so we can keep writing.
Please take care of yourself first, writers. 🔋