It happens to every writer at some point: You’re sitting in front of your computer, and the only thing you can think of is taking a nap. Unfortunately, nowhere on your editorial calendar is a 500-word blog post about the joys of napping, or the many lovely places you can take naps. And if there were, you wouldn’t write them anyway because you’re burned out. Fortunately, there are many ways to recover from burnout, and even more ways to prevent it.
Draw a Line in the Sand
Most freelance writers are bombarded with temptation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s always a new client to pitch, an email to answer, research that’s calling your name, and you can’t forget about the budgeting, bookkeeping and taxes!
That’s why it’s important to schedule yourself some days off. And by day off, I don’t mean that this is the day where you only write one or two articles in the morning. I mean a day or two every week during which nothing on your agenda has anything to do with writing.
Since we’re setting boundaries, go ahead and assign yourself certain hours for your workday. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird doesn’t matter, so long as you have clearly defined start and stop times. If you don’t give yourself regular hours, you’ll soon find yourself working all of them instead of a more reasonable eight or nine per day.
And on that Note You Should…
Quit fiddling around! When you find yourself looking at cat pictures on Facebook, stop and think about what’s more important: Looking at Grumpy Cat memes or spending some time playing with your own real, live cat after work. If your spouse or your kids get that kicked puppy look when you say, “Not now, I’m writing,” that’s a clear sign that you’re spending too much time in front of the computer and not enough time with them. Minimize distractions – no matter how cute or hilarious they are – throughout your workday, and you’ll be a happier writer with a happier family.
Save Your Best for Last
We all have times during the day when the words fly from our fingertips and other times when we struggle to sit up straight in our chairs. If you’re a morning person, you’re probably good to go after that first cup of coffee, but by late afternoon, you crash and burn in the afternoon. Nocturnal people spend their mornings face down on the keyboard and the evening typing just as fast as they can.
Whatever time of day works for you, make sure that is when you’re doing all of your writing. And those times when you’re staring listlessly at the monitor? Save them for mindless work, like catching up on your records or scouting new leads.
Seriously! Don’t Take Work on Vacation!
Just because laptops are portable doesn’t mean they need to go everywhere you go. Don’t fall into this trap! Whether you’re going on an all-expenses paid staycation to the sofa for a week, or a trip to a resort with excellent Wi-Fi, keep your clients out of it. Nothing is more demoralizing than working when you’ve shelled out hard-earned money just so you could spend a week not working.
If that’s not enough motivation, then think of the children! Specifically, your children, your husband or wife, your dog or whoever you took along on vacation. Don’t you think they’d much rather be spending time with you rather than watching you scuttle back to the hotel room early because deadlines await?
In all seriousness, burnout is a dangerous affliction – one that could potentially cost you your career or hurt your relationships. Just because your work is available 24/7, anywhere in the world, doesn’t mean you should be. If you want to be a happy writer, that means you need to set boundaries, streamline your workday, and set aside time for yourself and your family.
Amber K wrote this post at one o’clock in the morning because she is incapable of practicing what she preaches.