Monday, October 17, 2011

Writing Burnout

Just as bad as writer's block is its twin: writing burnout.  It happens when you push yourself too hard and end up writing a lot in a short period and then nothing for a long time.  Indeed, I've been known to suffer from writing burnout just thinking hard about writing.

Yes, writing burnout happens even when you're not actually recovering from a bout of writing but when you've ceased to get any pleasure from the activity, or even the thought of, writing.

I have to constantly remind myself that, much like my day job, I need breaks from my writing.  Yes, even an extended period such as the past month (full disclosure: I have written a few pages in the last week).

Don't get me wrong, I love writing (and I do love my day job, at times).  But sometimes, as Patti Smith says, love just ain't enough.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, etcetera.  A break from writing usually brings me charging back into it with renewed vigour.

My problem is allowing the burnout period to run its course.  My instinct is to jump right back onto that exhausted horse and hammer out a few pages, even when it is the last thing on earth I feel like doing.  Forcing myself to write works when I'm suffering from writer's block, not writing burnout.  When I feel burnout, I have to give myself time to rediscover my love of writing, which is sometimes lurking a few levels beneath my skin.  Sometimes, quite a few.

Writing is an art, a calling, a true love.  But like any love, you can occasionally benefit from some time apart, if only to recall why you fell in love in the first place.

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